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Success of odd-even rule will depend on availability of public transport: Experts…

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, while proposing that his government is likely to bring back theodd-even road rationing scheme between November 4 and 15, said that the government would take into consideration past experiences.

However, studies done to find out the effect of the odd-even of Delhi’s pollution after the AAP government introduced the odd-even for the first time in 2016, have shown that the road rationing scheme didn’t have the desired impact.

The odd-even vehicle restriction scheme introduced in Delhi for the first time in January 2016 could reduce pollution levels by just around 2 – 3%, a study done by a team of scientists from IIT-Delhi, IIT-Kanpur, IITM-Pune, CSIR and the TERI, had concluded. Only three pockets in the city – Najafgarh, Shalimar Bagh and Greater Kailash – registered around 8 – 10% in pollution levels.

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A similar study by researchers from Environmental Sciences and Biomedical Metrology Division at the National Physical Laboratory and JNU also said that there was little effect of the vehicle rationing scheme on Delhi’s environment.

A few other studies, however, backed the scheme saying it helped to bring down pollution levels. Experts from the Centre for Science and Environment suggested that as an “emergency measure”, the scheme prevented air pollution levels from getting worse.

Even though questions loom over the efficacy of the road rationing scheme in bringing down pollution in the national capital, experts from TERI, a policy research organization, in its assessment of the scheme during the first phase at four monitoring stations — Mandir Marg, Punjabi Bagh, Anand Vihar and R K Puram — had stated that the plan did help decongest Delhi roads.

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Experts said that the efficacy of the scheme would depend much on the availability of public transport. If public transport is robust, the government would be in a position to include all vehicles in the scheme, including more than 60 lakh two-wheelers that contribute heavily to the city’s pollution.

The odd-even car rationing scheme was implemented in Delhi first between January 1 and 15, 2016 and then from April 15-30. In all the editions, two-wheelers, women-driven cars besides emergency and police vehicles remained exempt.

Later in December 2017, the AAP government had failed to roll out the odd-even scheme after the NGT refused to give any exemption to two-wheelers, saying such a relaxation would defeat the purpose of improving Delhi’s ambient air quality.

The biggest hurdle that the AAP government is likely to face in the implementation of the scheme is the limited number of public buses in their fleet. An analysis by CSE shows that the city needs at least 11,000 buses, as against the 5454 buses it currently has, to cater to its population.

In the first phase of the vehicle rationing scheme in 2016, school vacations helped the government to rope in school buses into their fleet to ferry the increased passenger load.

Most of the increased traffic, however, was handled by the Delhi Metro. But now, the hike in the fare introduced in 2017, has made the service inaccessible to the poor commuters.

The government, however, said that it is working on the finer details of the scheme including exemptions.

“Transport sector contributes around 25% – 28% to Delhi’s overall pollution load. If we can control this we would be able to improve air quality. This is a welcome move but it needs to be implemented without many exemptions. For that, you need a robust public transport system. Only we would be able to see good results,” said D Saha, former head of the CPCB’s air quality laboratory.

First Published:
Sep 13, 2019 18:43 IST

Source: HindustanTimes