Story Of The Week

Curbing the Pollution Menace: Scope of the Selective Vehicle Ostracism.!!

The beginning of year 2016 is all set to bring a change in lives of residents of New Delhi. The Kejriwal government has proposed an Odd Even Formula for vehicles in order to curb pollution in the Indian capital. Although, there are lot of apprehensions related to the policy and its implementation but, if the idea is able to find success it can help the city to overcome various problems and provide a new outlook to the way the pollution controlling measures are formulated and undertaken by the governments. This story aims to bring the detailed analysis of what is the present situation & how things can pan out in the future.

POLLUTION LEVELS IN THE INDIAN CAPITAL

The Indian capital is rated in top 10 cities in the world severely affected from air pollution. In the last week, the air in New Delhi has had an average PM 2.5 concentration of 230.9 micrograms per cubic metre. The annual average for Delhi is 153. These figures are based on the particulate matter, or PM 2.5 levels. The ‘2.5’ refers to the particles diameter of 2.5 micrometres or less. These tiny particles are considered to be the most deadly, as they penetrate much further into the lungs than larger pollution particles – seriously increasing the prevalence of respiratory diseases and the risk of lung cancer. These figures are far higher than the World Health Organisation’s ‘healthy’ rating of 25.

Top 10 polluting cities

Source: World Health Organisation

Pollution levels in world

Source: World Health Organisation

POLICY FRAMEWORK

The main clause under this policy states that vehicles with odd numbers will be allowed on road on dates with odd numbers (1,3,5,7,9,11, etc) and vehicles with even numbers on even-numbered dates (0,2,4,6,8,10, etc). Sundays will be exempted under this rule. The number will be based on the last digit of the vehicle as displayed on the number plate (Zero will be considered an even number). The rule will be applicable between 8 am and 8 pm every day. This rule will not be applicable on emergency vehicles like PCR vans, fire tenders and ambulances, vehicles for disabled persons, patients and on public transports like CNG-driven buses, taxis (including privately owned cab services) and auto-rickshaws. Also, the government has decided to exempt two-wheelers from this rule. This system, therefore, will be applicable on all private-owned four wheelers running across Delhi, and on those coming in from NCR region & other states.

IMPLEMENTATION PLAN

One of the major concerns raised is about the effective implementation of the policy and how the passenger traffic on public vehicles will be catered to. The Kejriwal government has decided to conduct a trial run of the formula between 1 and 15 January, 2016.

After discussion with the school bus-owners, additional buses would be brought on roads, 1000 new buses in next three months. Delhi Metro Rail Corporation will be asked to increase its frequency and extend its timing. There will be 200 check-points in the city to check pollution level. Trucks will be allowed inside Delhi from 10.30 pm. The role of Delhi police for effective implementation which operates under Central Government will be crucial & therefore, the talks are going on to ensure the cooperation.

To have clarity on the rule, the government has decided to come up with its complete blueprint by 25 December, 2015. Also, awareness building exercise will be taken up at a larger scale.

CITIES WHERE THE FORMULA HAS BEEN IMPLEMENTED & DID IT WORK..??

The odd even rationing policy has till now has been tried in five cities in the world namely, Beijing, Rome, Paris, Mexico & Bogota in Columbia. On one hand, the policy was a massive success in Paris & Beijing but, on the other hand the policy did not receive much success in Bogota, Rome & Mexico. Talking specifically about Mexico, the policy received initial success but, eventually they did what some in Delhi are planning to do. They just started buying two cars with both, even and odd numbers which meant higher emission levels too. The demographics in different cities played a very crucial role in determining the failure & success of the policy. Beijing could be a good example to judge Delhi considering the population in two cities is comparable..!!

Is the Plan Odd..!!- Concurring & Counter Arguments

The odd even rule has already found supporters & critics for it. Both sides have their set of arguments loaded against each other. Those favouring the rule emphasize that it is high time that Delhi implements such rule. The argument given is that the rule will effectively reduce the number of private cars by half which in turn would also reduce the road dust kicked up by this traffic. Clubbed with that the traffic would also now move a lot faster due to reduction of cars by almost half each day. They believe it would act as a multiplier effect where half of the cars would make the journey in half the time. According to Sanjiv Kapoor former COO Spice Jet, this rule would bring a culture of car-pooling in the city & the idea deserves to be given a chance.

But, there are concerns raised as well. The issue raised is that most of the taxis plying in the capital run on diesel & therefore, the rule would force citizens to leave the petrol fuelled cars so as to commute in a taxi or cab more polluting. They also raise the point that trucks are the biggest contributors of the pollution & cars, jeeps contribute less than 10% of particulate matter. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has also questioned the odd-even formula for vehicles saying it may not have the desired effect & it may make people buy two cars resulting in more of an increased traffic. Also, the provision related to the exemption of vehicles used by senior citizens to commute still remains unclear.

Surely, it would be interesting to see whether this experiment reaps rewards for the government & most importantly, the people of Delhi.

REFERENCES

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