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Curbing pollution in Delhi: The Big Question, How?

A major challenge would be coordinating with different agencies, many of which claimed they were in the dark.

Written by Sarah Hafeez , Naveed Iqbal | Delhi |
Updated: December 5, 2015 2:07:42 pm
pollution, delhi pollution, delhi, odd number, even number, odd even numbers, odd even formula, pollution in delhi, alternate number cars, delhi govt, kejriwal govt,delhi news Another measure suggested by the governemt is to hire school buses and private buses to meet public transport needs. (Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

While the Delhi government introduced a slew of radical measures to curb the capital’s soaring pollution levels, there is still a long way to go before these can be successfully implemented. A major challenge would be coordinating with different agencies, many of which claimed they were in the dark.

Read: What is more important, health or your car? You have to take a call: Ashish Khetan 

The Delhi government’s unilateral decision Friday to adopt drastic measures to control air pollution in the city has evoked mixed reactions from the Centre and local bodies, all of whom have a stake in the capital. Even some Delhi government’s departments were left staring at several unanswered questions.

WATCH VIDEO: This is what is wrong with the air in Delhi

While some of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s decisions require executive orders, others need cooperation with departments such as the Delhi Metro, police, BJP-ruled municipal corporations and the union urban development and transport ministries.
Sources in the Delhi departments of environment and transport said they were caught unawares by the move and had just three weeks to work out the modalities of the plan.

The Delhi Traffic Police, which will shoulder a considerable burden of implementing the decisions, also said they were clueless about the move.

Read: A few must sacrifice their comforts in order to save lives, says M C Mehta

“I came to know about it through news channels. We have not been intimated. I cannot comment on the nature of the enforcement or the modalities of the plan till I see it. We don’t even know if we are the ones who will be asked to enforce the new rules,” said Special Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Muktesh Chander.

However, a senior traffic police officer said this could be a voluntary move rather than an enforced one. “It will be impossible to implement. How is one going to read numbers of cars. We don’t know what kinds of fines will be levied or what type of punishment will be meted out to violators, and who will be exempted. More importantly, under which law is this plan to be implemented,” he said.

Sources said the environment and transport departments have been asked to develop rules over the next three weeks on the number plate restriction. “These decisions had not been finalised in a meeting held Friday. We will meet again on December 7-8 to finalise the implementation,” said a source.

Read: Supreme Court takes steps to check air quality on its premises 

Senior officials said tracking number plates and ensuring penalties would be “big challenges”. “We will have to notify people in advance like we have been doing on car free days,” said another official.

The municipal corporations also pointed to a lack of consultation on the issue. “We share the government’s concern but stakeholders should have been consulted before taking a decision of this magnitude,” said Leader of the House, South Corporation, Ashish Sood.

North Delhi mayor Ravinder Gupta said, “There are people who, in the absence of parking spaces, park their vehicles on the PWD roads outside their houses. With no alternate arrangements, where will these cars be moved?” he said.

Read: Badarpur, Rajghat thermal power stations to be shut down 

Sources said China may have implemented the odd and even number operation code, but levying a congestion tax would be a more viable option for democratic countries.

Sources said the congestion tax will be an extra charge levied in order to be allowed to ply.

Green plan: Proposals & Challenges

What govt wants: Private vehicles to be restricted based on odd and even number plates on alternate days from Jan 1. Emergency services such as ambulances, police exempted
Challenge: Transport and environment departments are understaffed and would require support from the Delhi Police and Centre

What govt wants: Environment Department proposes shutting down Badarpur and Rajghat thermal power plants. Delhi government to move an application in the NGT to shut down Dadri plant
Challenge: While Badarpur and Rajghat plants are operating below peak efficiency, shutting down the Dadri plant would require permission from UP govt

What govt wants: The transport dept, along with the traffic police, to finalise a proposal to allow trucks in Delhi from 10 pm or 11 pm, instead of 9 pm
Challenge: Establishing effective communication with the municipal bodies and Delhi traffic police as well as figuring out alternative routes for essential goods

What govt wants: To advance implementation of Euro-VI norms
Challenge: Coordinating with Centre as well as putting in place infrastructure and guidelines to enforce it

What govt wants: PWD to expedite vacuum cleaning of Delhi roads from April 1
Challenge: A quick tendering process to ensure the best equipment and adequate funding

What govt wants: Hiring school buses and private buses to meet public transport needs
Challenge: To ensure schools not affected as well as steps to ensure safety of commuters

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