MITIGATING THE QUALITY OF AIR AND ITS CONCERNS
The odd-even rule and the takeaway for us
It is rightly said, “Har shehar ki apni ek alag hawaa hoti hai.” Talking about Delhi, the factor that differentiates its hawaa is nothing more than the pollution levels. Known around the world for having one of the most polluted atmosphere, the capital of the country has now resolved to change things, for the better.
At present 25 lakh cars run on Delhi roads alone, which is more than the cars running in all metro cities combined.
The odd-even scheme will be rolled out from 1 January to 15 January 2016. After this, the results will be reviewed and a further plan of action will be devised. Earlier there were conjectures that the rule will follow a day-wise system, Monday, Wednesday and Friday for cars having last digit as odd number and the other three days for the even numbered car. But, “Odd-numbered dates will be for odd-numbered cars and even-numbered date for even number cars,” Delhi’s Transport Minister Gopal Rai said. The rule applies from 8 am to 8 pm daily with an exemption on Sundays. There also seems to be a relaxation that is being put in case of single lady drivers, or cars in which only ladies are present.
A similar system is followed in Beijing, though there exist wide disparities in the formulation and enforcement of the same. The system that is followed in Beijing is based on restricting specific numbers on certain days of the week. The last two numbers of the car are demarcated in such a way that each number has a restriction only on one day of the week. This was started in 2008, when Olympics were held. Apart from solid planning, the enforcement was also very closely worked upon. Round the clock surveillance cameras and a fine of 200 Yuan are due on defaulters. The applicability of such a system is far from reality at this stage in India. Today, only 17,600 vehicle registrations are granted per month, that too on a lottery system. The situations and regulations present in Beijing are very different from that of Delhi and the applicability of a system like this stands doubt.
Taking case of Delhi, an additional 6000 buses will be deployed, 4000 will be general buses, while the rest 2000 will be taken from 2700 schools after their duty hours are over. Also, an app called Puchho App will be launched on December 25 which will help people hire autos for commuting in case they need assistance. Talks are also going on with the Railway Minister for increasing the frequency of trains and ensuring peak functioning of Delhi Metro during that period.
The step is definitely a way forward. The long-standing lethargy has been broken with an effort. There are a number of challenges ahead. While the system in Beijing had alternatives that could be used by every person in the city, the same is not the case with Delhi. Further, the mechanism that would regulate the adherence of this system is not very clear as on date. These measures are on a short term basis. A series of steps are expected to be incorporated in near future, which include making it mandatory for all vehicles to follow Euro VI emission norms from 2017.
As we look at the news and analyse what is right and what not, and are busy predicting what the outcome will be, one question comes to our mind. Why are actions taken only when the situation becomes out of control? Only when we realise that the city has become a ‘gas chamber’, do we understand that we need to mitigate the situation. The quote, “Prevention is better than cure.” rings in my head day in and day out.
Hope we’re all listening...