Report on Odd-Even’s Effectiveness

It was at the backdrop of the city reaching dangerous levels of pollution that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal introduced the much maligned ‘odd-even formula’ for automobiles running in the NCR. The government’s objective, apart from addressing the issue of high pollution particulate matter (PM), was also to find a solution to the deeply congested roads which plagued the citizenry on a regular basis. As any Delhiite would tell you, it is an herculean task to reach your destination on time without being confronted with nerve-racking traffic. The city needed a policy which would decongest the roads as well as limit the particulate matter in the ever-increasing pollution levels of the environment. The odd-even scheme was to be run on a trial basis of 15 days at the onset of New Year’s Day — 1st of January, 2016. A week has elapsed since, and it becomes important to review whether the herculean plan has held its own or not.

Senior Advocate Harish Salve, representing the Delhi Government, appeared before the Delhi High Court defending the policy which has been questioned, ridiculed and even subverted ad infinitum. The Court had inquired why 8 days weren’t enough to critically evaluate the impact of the policy on the environment, as the scheme was already causing the citizenry many practical difficulties.

However, the government claimed that the policy has more than shown just incremental results. The 24-hour PM has reduced from 448 microgram per cubic metre on December 22nd to 351 on January 3rd. This is no coincidence and credit has only to be given to the policy initiated by the Government. A report by the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) states that ‘per person’ load of pollutants has reduced by almost 50%. Reports from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) reveal that PM levels decreased during the first days of January. The otherwise cramped roads breathed a sigh a relief as traffic levels hit drastic lows (reduction in traffic density by up to 30% during peak hours). The strict fining measures undertaken by the Delhi Police, amongst other authorities must be duly recognised — in fact,  Rs.40 Lakh in fines taken over the 8 days have created quite the reserve for undertaking further measures to ensure better transportation facilities available to those who cannot afford cars or two wheelers.

Yet, doubts remain over the actual efficacy of the policy. Analysis from reports as per the National Air Quality Index (NAQI) shows that pollution levels have in fact, remained the same.  The data suggests that making cars ply on alternate days will not work towards reducing the pollution levels as people would try their best to subvert; picking personal convenience over everything has become niche nowadays. Anumita Roy Chawdhury of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) held that ‘though the peak level of pollution has lowered, average pollution levels have increased’. Other sources say that two-wheelers and industrial waste are the main culprits which the policy ignores to address. Adding to the woes of the already short-staffed Delhi Police, the numerous exemptions to the rule (examples- two wheelers, women drivers.) make many wonder whether the policy has been implemented selectively to leave out the advantaged few.

Questions remain yet to be answered, and maybe the best answer that the Delhi Government can afford right now, is that of believing in the efficacy of the policy it has doled out. It remains to be seen whether Delhi will go down the path of countries like Mexico, (where a similar programme was introduced yet, no real improvement resulted in the environment) or will it lead other states down an untrodden path, showing the way on how to effectively tackle a growing global problem that is air pollution. Being a citizen of the world, one can only hope that the policy shows some worthwhile results that may be emulated in other nations. As in the end, in the words of John Lennon, (and as tweeted by Mr. Arvind Kejriwal)  “Imagine all the people, living life in peace…”

 

CONTINUE READING

The case of Aruna Shanbaug that changed the Euthanasia laws...

0
It is my Belief that death is a friend to whom we should be grateful, for it frees us from the manifold ills which are our lot - Mahatma Gandhi. As human beings, out the umpteen desires that we have, one of them is definitely to have a peaceful death....

Justice D Y Chandrachud’s path-breaking Verdict in the Sabarimala Case of...

0
“Will the quest for equality and fraternity be denuded of its content where women continue to be treated as children of a lesser god in exercising their liberties in matters of belief, faith and worship? Will the pursuit of individual dignity be capable of being achieved if we deny...

After repealing section 377, its time to Legalise Same-Sex Marriage in...

0
A draconian, archaic law that criminalized homosexuality was struck down in a historic judgment given by the Supreme Court in 2018. Two years after the judgment, the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) community has now sought legal recognition of their relationships. As the social stigmas surrounding the LGBTQ...

Modern Day Book Burning a.k.a Internet Shutdowns

0
The internet has become an indispensable element in our society for all the obvious reasons. For the majority of users, not a single day goes by where we don't 'need' the internet and the lack of a reliable and fast connection can feel paralyzing. An internet shutdown refers to...

Letter to UNHRC – Dr Kafeel Khan, Punished Because He’s Muslim

0
Kafeel Khan, a doctor by profession and a social activist has been targeted by Yogi Government since 2017, in 3 years he had been maliciously arrested 3 times & imprisoned for around 14 months on the false charges set up against him at many instances. Now he is absolved...

Prison Life In India and its Aftermath

0
Everyone prays to never see the bars of prison in their lifetime. Yet, as fickle as life is, it is quite hard to predict the future. It is in everyone’s benefit to know a little bit about prison life; for movies and cinemas do not do justice to the...