To tackle Delhi’s air pollution, the government of the national capital tried to implement the odd-even traffic rule a few days back. But the government was slammed by the National Green Tribunal for not taking enough measures in time. But, Delhi government can look to Beijing and how the Chinese capital tackled its problems related to traffic conditions and evidently scaled down the pollutant levels in the air. According to a report in The Indian Express, Beijing’s way to tackle the traffic menace and air pollution is to put vehicle rationing scheme permanently in effect all weekdays. The two number vehicle scheme in Beijing is applied automatically when haze level reaches the highest or ‘red haze alert’ is expected. It is very often when Delhi is compared with Beijing over poor air quality. But Beijing, after the 2008 Olympics, implemented a traffic restriction policy that depends on the last number on a car’s registration plate.
On October 11, 2008, the policy took effect and works like: On every weekday, two groups of vehicles are not allowed on Beijing’s roads. This group is decided according to the last number of licence plates (1 and 6 on Monday, 2 and 7 on Tuesday, 3 and 8 on Wednesday, 4 and 9 on Thursday and 5 and 0 on Friday). The restricted cars are not allowed to drive from 7 in the morning to 8 in the night. The violators under this scheme are charged with a fine of 200RMB (roughly Rs 2,000) and the violator is charged with three points to his/her driving licence. After touching 12 points in one year, the licence is suspended for good. The drivers can apply for a new licence.
Vehicle emissions account for over 30 per cent of PM 2.5 in Beijing’s air, according to the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Environmental Protection. The two numbered vehicles on roads on weekdays is permanent but another action plan comes into play depending on the haze level forecast.
“Most people who own cars hardly used public transport and after the implementation of traffic rule, they had to use it once a week. My car is prohibited on the roads on Mondays, now I know the subway and bus routes I need. It is easy difficult to manage,” said Tongfei, a Beijing resident and businessman.
Recently, an orange alert, which is the second highest alert, was sounded between November 4 and November 8, people in Beijing received a text message. The message read that the orange alert plan would be in effect which included a ban on trucks and construction. But the trick Bejing plays is not only by controlling existing vehicles alone but it restricts new ones. According to a data, Beijing has at least 558 lakh vehicles, and cars are about three lakh.