Delhi air pollution: Government gasps; Odd-Even is back, next week

Delhi air pollution: CNG, electric and hybrid, women-only vehicles, those carrying kids exempt.

Written by Aniruddha Ghosal | New Delhi | Updated: November 10, 2017 12:57 pm
delhi, pollution, delhi pollution, smog, toxic air, delhi smog, Delhi Odd-even, Odd-even scheme, Odd-even in Delhi, AAP, Congress, BJP, arvind kejriwal, amarinder singh, delhi air pollution, delhi smog, pollution, in delhi, crop burning, stubble burning pollution, delhi schools, manish sisodia, delhi smog photos, delhi air quality, punjab government, ngt, punjab farmers, delhi air quality Delhi air pollution: At the Women’s Indian Open in Gurgaon Thursday. (Express Photo: Amit Mehra)

With air quality dipping further Thursday to its worst level this year, the Delhi government announced that the odd-even car rationing scheme will be rolled out in the city for five days from November 13 to November 17. Announcing this, Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot said that the scheme, a part of the emergency measure in the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), created and enforced by the Supreme Court-appointed EPCA, will be in place from 8 am to 8 pm like last year and will allow odd-numbered cars to run on odd dates while even-numbered cars will only run on even dates.

Earlier, the odd-even scheme had been implemented, initially for a fortnight beginning from January 1, 2016 and then four months later from April 15 to 30.

Also Read: How to fight crop burn and not singe the farmer

The move came after an “emergency” prevailed in the capital for the third day, with the Air Quality Index, worsening to 486, on a scale of 500 – and predicted to get worse over the next 48 hours. As per norms, a satisfactory AQI level is 100 and Delhi routinely is between 300 and 400.

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After the Central Pollution Control Board task force told EPCA on Wednesday that prevailing conditions called for an “emergency” response, Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal met and announced that they were “preparing” for the implementation of the scheme.

Also Read: In smog city, smoker’s cough haunts non-smokers too

Gahlot asked citizens and agencies to cooperate and promised that radio-cab services would not be allowed to use surge-pricing. He added that the DTC would hire 500 buses from private contractors to deal with the increased number of commuters. He said, “”Delhi Metro has also promised to provide 100 small buses during the period. Schools will be free to provide their buses voluntarily. However, there will be no compulsion.”

He also urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to call a meeting of Chief Ministers of Delhi and its surrounding states to find a solution to the crisis.

Delhi, pollution, Delhi pollution, smog, toxic air, Delhi smog, delhi toxic air, aap, bjp, congress Delhi air pollution: Bird Eye view of the Ram Leela Ground and old Delhi, from the Civic Center building. Smog in the Capital, as air pollution in the city has drastically increased, on Thursday, November 09, 2017. Express photo by Abhinav Saha

The exemptions, Gahlot said, would include CNG vehicles, electric vehicles, hybrid vehicles, women-only vehicles and those carrying children up to 12 years of age, as well as children in school uniform.

He added, “IGL (Indraprastha Gas Limited) will issue stickers which will be available at 22 CNG stations in Delhi. Extra buses are also being arranged. But we will not requisition them for school buses.”

Also Read: Amid clamour to save national capital, many cities with worse air quality are forgotten 

Different studies conducted on the efficacy of the scheme, in decreasing congestion and consequently reducing air pollution due to vehicular emissions, have come up with varying results.

In the first phase of Delhi odd-even rule, 10,058 vehicles were fined and in the second phase, 8,988 vehicles were fined.

A government survey after the first survey received 4.1 lakh responses, 81 percent of them positive while another 60 percent wanted the formula to be permanent — the government had claimed.

Also Read: Delhi HC, NGT come down heavily on authorities

The second phase was followed by the Delhi government stating that compliance had been 99.6 percent and there had been increase in metro ridership from 2.5 percent to 3 percent. However “more congestion” had taken place, leading to the creation of a six-member committee, headed by Special Commissioner Transport K K Dahiya. The committee identified major construction activities, ongoing dismantling of the BRT corridor and negligible reduction of traffic entering from Noida and Gurgaon as key factors behind congestion.

Scientific studies though, on the efficacy of the odd-even scheme, are varied. Consider this:

* A study by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) and Harvard University had found reductions in pollutants in the afternoon hours in Delhi from January 1 to 15. According to the study, PM 2.5 declined by 13% on an average during the odd-even period.

* A study “ “Evaluation of the effects of the 15-day odd-even scheme in Delhi: A preliminary report”, by researchers at Transportation Research and Injury Prevention Programme (TRIPP), IIT Delhi found vehicle speeds increasing from 11 am during the first phase of the scheme, maximum increase recorded was 9%. Although average speed dipped marginally in some locations between 6am and 11am, the study also found high compliance with the rule.

* A CPCB report told the NGT on April 21, while the second-phase of the scheme was ongoing, that “prime facie there is no data to suggest that odd-even scheme has any impact on decrease in vehicular pollution…the fluctuations in PM10 and PM2.5 is due to weather and change in wind patterns.”

* A study by Poverty Action Lab South Asia and supported by the International Growth Centre (IGC) comparing the two versions of the scheme found consistent impacts over both rounds: high compliance, decrease in congestion.

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  1. A
    A Gopal
    Nov 10, 2017 at 11:59 am
    The most important point is this Diwali Crackers pollution dramabaazi is now no longer applicable what is this pollution due to ???? Kill joy sickularists all that you achieved is to snatch away the joy and happiness of millions of little children who always associate Diwali with crackers and sweets. In this sordid affair you are in the august company of those Supreme Court Judges who passed that bad order to ban of crackers only for Diwali. Hope that your blood lust to hit out at Hinduism has been satiated
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    1. B
      bhimsen
      Nov 10, 2017 at 11:37 am
      Odd even is a farce - it only increases the number of trips of taxis without any measurable impact on pollution. The government should declare holidays instead.
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      1. R
        RR
        Nov 10, 2017 at 12:11 pm
        Holidays..kam tu karega? do u have any sense how much loss is made on every holiday? Why not u talk about stopping pollution, banning cars in Delhi and arresting those who are having more than one car. Why not u speak about supporting public transport, planting trees and saving Aravalis which has been destroyed by your real estate mafia, forcing Delhi NCR to remain always under dust particles? 405pollution of Delhi is contributed by vehicles alone...u azzwhl has not even this knowledge and commenting here! Slon bachche paeda karna band karo, abaadi saari dilli me ghused di hai..Delhi ki jagah poore hindustan ka development karo so that population densitiy does not get concentrated at one place.
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      2. R
        RR
        Nov 10, 2017 at 11:32 am
        इस धरती की चमड़ी उधेर उधेर के इतनी काटी और बाँटी हमने की अब खुद ही सांस लेना भी मुश्किल सा हो पड़ा है ... इंसान की बुलंदी की समझ ने आज उसको ऐसा बहका दिया की आज बिस्टेर की जगह कब्र में पड़ा है!
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        1. S
          suruchi
          Nov 10, 2017 at 11:15 am
          we are here to breathe unhealthy air and pay taxes for each and everything. when it comes to rescue, no govt has funds coz already the collection is divided and kept safe in their bank accounts be it any one. Indians just know to politicise issue and win votes . Let people die who cares ? all with handsome money will run to foreign countries when situation worsens .so much of popuation. even if few crores die where is the loss. Lovely!!!
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          1. R
            RR
            Nov 10, 2017 at 11:14 am
            Our governments r worse than Pakistan. Pakistan government looks more sincere towards war against pollution as it has banned crop stubble burning..and what our government is doing..? Doing Batt..just Mann ki Batt and making trips in election polls, while India is struggling with pollution. Ye superoower banayenge India ko? Why crop burning is not being banned in India? Why government is not showing zero tolerance to pollution? sla Pakistan bhi humse behtar hai yahan to...socho hum kitne gir gaye hain! U call Punjab Haryana richest state..these bldy guys r getting rich by polluting entire India at the cost of health of country...Punjab has become no.1 state in cancer due to industrial and agricultural pollution...now they r turning rest of India into patients.
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              bhimsen
              Nov 10, 2017 at 11:39 am
              Go emigrate to Pakistan. Typical islamist cannot think beyond Pakistan, why not Switzerland, Sweden and other advance countries. Must you always compare India with a failed nation.
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              1. R
                RR
                Nov 10, 2017 at 12:06 pm
                tera IQ kum hai...tere ko samjh aata hai ki nahi jab ek India jaesa nation Pakistan jaese failed nation se bhi neechey gir jaaye to? Desh bhakti ka matlab andh bhakti nahi hote sootiye! Apni kamiyon o sudharna seekho..chipana nahi..nassor khokhla kar deta hai.
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