Delhi might get odd-even scheme back, gear-up says Transport minister

Odd-Even rule can be implemented when air pollution levels are in the 'emergency' category for 48 hours or more.

By: | Updated: October 26, 2017 1:34 PM

Delhi government is planning to introduce the famous/infamous Odd-Even scheme and it might be as soon as this winter that we might see it making a come back that aims to restrict the number of cars in the National Capital said the Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot. The reintroduction of this scheme is to keep a check on increasing pollution in Delhi/NCR. A report on PTI says that the minister on Wednesday, wrote to the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and senior officials of his ministry, asking them to be "fully geared up" for implementation of the odd-even scheme "as and when" it is announced. The rule was first introduced by AAP government in 2016 after Delhi High Court directed the Centre and State governments to come up with comprehensive action plans to put a check on city’s “alarming” pollution rate. Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government has come up with this scheme to bring down the city’s air pollution proportion. While this scheme certainly did not help in reducing pollution levels, it surely eased the traffic in the capital during peak hours.

"With the increase in pollution levels in Delhi, the government may have to resort to emergency measures, including the odd-even scheme," Kailash Gahlot said. The scheme, based on the last digit of the vehicle's registration number of vehicles, was implemented twice in 2016 -- from January 1-15 and April 15-30. Under the scheme, odd and even numbered vehicles ply on alternate days.

It can be implemented when air pollution levels are in the 'emergency' category for 48 hours or more. However, just not allowing a few private cars/SUVs on roads will not be a solution to this as it happen in April 2016. Old polluting commercial vehicles, banning over 12 years old vehicles is a possible solution and it has to be implemented over a period of time keeping sustainable development in mind and not just when there is an emergency warning.

Reports also suggest that pollution from private cars in Delhi/NCR is not a prime reason for poor air-quality. Higher amount of pollutants is emitted by two-wheelers, commercial vehicles, factories, dust and burning of crops.

Last week, the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA), a body empowered to enforce the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), had said it would not hesitate to enforce the 'odd-even' plan, order cars off roads, and shut schools if needed.

According to Gahlot, procurement of additional buses by DTC would be the "main component" of readiness in case the odd-even scheme is implemented.

A major challenge in implementing the scheme is poor public transport facilities, despite a well developed Delhi
Metro network it still lacks the last mile connectivity, The DTC has a fleet of around 4,000 buses, while the Delhi Integrated Multimodal Transit System (DIMTS) runs over 1,600 buses under the cluster scheme. Experts estimate that the city needs about 11,000 buses to cover all areas. EPCA has already taken tough measures like shutting the Badarpur thermal power plant and brick kilns and banning generators after air pollution levels hit the 'Very Poor' and 'Severe' categories.

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