This new year, the city of New Delhi created history with the implementation of a radically new plan to combat the alarming levels of pollution in the region. From 1st of January to the 15th, the people of Delhi embraced a new policy that aimed at combating the recent rise Particulate Matter (PM) levels in the air- The Odd-Even Formula.
Inspired by Beijing’s new traffic measures to curb air pollution, this scheme was laid out or a trial period of 15 days from 8AM to 8PM. All 4-wheelers were made to follow the new rule. For these 15 days, cars in Delhi were segregated as odd and even numbered vehicles on the basis of the last digit on their number plates. Odd cars could only move on an ‘odd’ day, viz. 3rd, 5th, and the 7th day of the month. Even cars had to follow a similar rule. Vehicles running on CNG, LPG and electricity, and cars drove by female drivers were only exempted from the rule along with VVIP’s, emergency vehicles. Even vehicles coming from bordering states were not spared.
This was brought up in light of the alarming rise in pollution levels in the NCR region. In December–January 2015, in Delhi, an average PM2.5 level of 226 was noted by US embassy monitors, making Delhi the 4th most polluted city in the world. The Supreme Court, on December 3rd in strict orders, asked the state government to come up with a concrete plan to curb the pollution. Patients with respiratory disorders, old aged people, and infants were specifically mentioned in the order, stating that their Right to Life was threatened. According to doctors, the conditions are so bad in the national capital that it is very difficult for asthma patients to breathe continuously for one hour without any aid at a crossing during peak traffic hours.
The chief minister, and other ministers of Delhi as well as the judges of the Supreme Court and the High Court also broke their normal protocols and created an example for the common people by consenting to follow the scheme in spite of the exemption provided to them. The widely positive response of the people was what made it successful. School children, as volunteers, made people aware of the rising pollution levels in the capital. A fine of ₹2000 was imposed by the government on people violating the rule but to their surprise, the number of people fined was very less except some who were a little palliative to follow it.
By the end of the rule, the most prominent pollutant in Delhi’s air, PM 2.5, had “come down” by around 25 per cent as compared to December’s figures, Delhi government said attributing the “drop” to the prevailing odd-even car restriction scheme. “More than 50 percent drop in air pollution primarily caused by vehicular traffic has been recorded according to the latest ambient air data collected by mobile teams of Delhi Pollution Control Committee on Saturday at 18 locations, through mobile dust samplers on using the light scattering technique,” the government said in a statement. [Source: NDTV] According to several polls by independent agencies, majority of the people have openly come out in support of the scheme. Overall 81% of respondents want odd-even back and more than 60% people the formula should be made permanent, the chief minister said.
Delhi is now all set to have the same arithmetic in place for the second time from April 15th to April 30th. It is now time for other metros including Guwahati, to follow suit and take steps for controlling pollution. This is our inherent responsibility and we must strive to make our country clean and prosperous in every way we can.
It’s time we clean this country.