Tackling Delhi’s Air Pollution: More electric buses, efficient public transport is the key, not odd-even

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Published: November 15, 2019 10:34:04 PM

Not only experts but the top court of the country has also questioned the effectiveness of the odd-even scheme in tackling Delhi's air pollution

Delhi Odd Even, Air Pollution, Smog,Odd-Even has failed to improve air quality index in the city.

Delhi Odd-Even Scheme: Climate experts have raised questions over the efficacy of short term measures like the odd-even scheme implemented by the Delhi government for tackling the air pollution in the national capital. They have also questioned Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s plan to extend the scheme for another 15 days as a two-week long first phase has not resulted in any significant improvement in the Air Quality Index (AQI) in the city-state. The odd-even scheme should only be used as an emergency measure for a short time. If extended indefinitely, it may lose its impact, said a Delhi based climate activist.

“Extension of the scheme may encourage people with cars to go in for second-hand cars which are less efficient and should have been out of the service pool anyway,” said Aditya Pundir, country manager of the Climate Reality Project India.

Delhi’s Air Quality Index (AQI) worsened after Deepawali festival last month and the continued stubble burning in the neighbouring states of Haryana and Punjab further deteriorated the situation. In order to deal with the worsening air quality in the city-state, Aam Aadmi Party government in the national capital enforced its vehicle rationing scheme, popularly known as odd-even scheme, as it allows private vehicles with odd numbers to run on odd days like 3,5,7, 9 and so on, and even number vehicles on even days such as 2,4,6 & 8.

However, the vehicle rationing scheme has failed to improve the air quality in the city. It prompted the Supreme Court to question the effectiveness of the measure in a hearing today. The apex court’s strong observation came on the last day of the scheme as it failed to improve the Air Quality Index (AQI) in the city even after 12 days. The top court not only pulled up the Centre and Delhi government but it also summoned the chief secretaries of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to formulate a coordinated response.

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Climate experts suggest that instead of short-term measures like vehicle rationing schemes, the government should focus on creating an extremely efficient public transport system in the national capital. Delhi has a metro rail system, jointly owned and managed by both the Union and Delhi governments. However, its network is not so well developed to significantly reduce the number of private vehicles in the city.

“Globally we have seen people are looking for efficient and comfortable transport. Singapore, Hong Kong, Melbourne, London all major cities have extremely efficient and comfortable public transport. People have cars but choose to take public transport for every day commuting,” Aditya Pundir told Financial Express Online.

He says that if the government is able to replace its existing fleet with electric buses then it will have a significant impact on the city’s air quality and current trends indicate that young people are willing to shift from private vehicles to a more efficient mode of public transport.

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“Delhi is desperately looking for electric buses to replace existing fleet, and success of Shuttle services and young people preferring cab services like Ola and Uber over buying their own cars is an indicator that if we are able to provide good transport then people, especially the young, will shift, he added.

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