Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on September 13, said the odd-even road rationing scheme will be implemented in Delhi from November 4 to 15. Kejriwal said the move was aimed at combating high levels of air pollution in winters when crop burning takes place in neighbouring states. The chief minister announced his seven-point action plan to tackle pollution due to crop burning which includes distribution of masks, mechanised sweeping of roads, tree plantation, and special plans for 12 pollution hot spots in the city. Under the scheme, odd and even-numbered vehicles ply on alternate days.
Earlier, environmental experts met Arvind Kejriwal on September 12, and supported the Delhi government’s odd-even scheme as an “emergency” measure to bring down air pollution levels in winters, an official statement said.
They discussed with the chief minister an action plan to combat winter air pollution in the national capital, it said.
“The experts, Dr Ken Lee, executive director of EPIC (Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago) India, and O P Agarwal, CEO, WRI (World Resources Institute) India, say Delhi’s odd-even policy had impact and recommended pollution masks in winter months,” the government statement said.
They also recommended long term measures such as electric vehicle policy, bus aggregator policy and reforms of pollution under control centres to combat air pollution in the city, it said.
Dr Lee presented research and data on the impact of the first odd-even implementation by the Delhi Government in January 2016, the statement said. “The January 2016 odd-even pilot reduced particulate air pollution concentrations by 14-16 per cent,” Lee claimed.
However, due to the possibility of compliance issues over the long-run, it is perhaps best suited as an emergency measure during the winter when vehicle emissions are especially problematic, he said.
Agarwal suggested that the Delhi government should look for short term measures to restrict indiscriminate use of private automobiles in the city, such as odd-even scheme, besides focusing on augmentation of public transport, the statement said.
The experts said use of pollution masks could be beneficial as an effective risk mitigation measure, it added.
“In a study done by EPIC India across 3,500 slum residents of Delhi in winter of 2018, it was found that the take-up of masks was the highest when it was distributed for free,” the statement said.
“Certain types of pollution masks (N90 or N95 masks, for example) can be effective in reducing individual exposure to outdoor air pollution,” it said.
The WRI India also recommended government support for wider dissemination of pollution masks in the winter months, especially for vulnerable groups such as school children, it added.
AAP government seeks suggestions from Delhi citizens on how to reduce pollution
The Delhi government has sought the suggestions from people, for steps to reduce pollution in the city during winters when stubble burning takes place in the neighbouring states like Punjab and Haryana. Addressing a press conference, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said people can send their suggestions at email@example.com till September 12, 2019.
During the peak season from around October 25 to November 20, a large number of stubble-burning incidents are reported in the neighbouring states, which adds to the pollution level in the national capital, he said. “We want to ask the people of Delhi what steps can be taken during these 20-25 days to protect children and the elderly among others, from the ill-effects of pollution caused by stubble burning,” Kejriwal said.
The chief minister claimed that in the last three years, there has been 25 per cent reduction in the overall pollution level because of a slew of measures taken by the AAP government and others, including Supreme Court, Union government, Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) and civic bodies. He said at present, 40 air-quality monitoring systems are operating in Delhi to get real-time data and 4,000 buses will soon be procured which will also result in reduction in pollution levels. Introduction of environment compensation charge, construction of eastern and western peripheral expressways, dust-control measures during construction work, massive tree plantation drive, closure of Badarpur and Rajghat power plants, Graded Response Action Plan are among the measures which have contributed to the reduction of pollution levels in Delhi, the chief minister said.
Delhi pollution: EPCA recommends odd-even scheme or ban on non-CNG private vehicles
The EPCA has recommended to the pollution board that it should implement either the odd-even scheme or impose a complete ban on non-CNG private vehicles, if the air pollution in Delhi worsens again
November 15, 2019: Chairman of the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) Bhure Lal, on November 14, 2018, recommended to the pollution watchdog CPCB that it should implement, either the odd-even scheme or impose a complete ban on non-CNG private vehicles, if the air pollution level in Delhi increases again.
Reacting to the recommendation by the chairman of the EPCA, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) said the additional steps, including the complete ban on non-CNG private vehicles, should be ‘deliberated’ by the EPCA, which is a larger body.
Lal’s recommendation and CPCB’s reaction came on a day when Delhi’s air quality ‘improved significantly’ since Diwali, as overnight rains washed away larger pollutants and stubble burning in neighbouring states declined. The air quality, however, was ‘poor’, with an AQI of 293. The recommendation also came two days after Lal had written to chief secretaries of Delhi and neighbouring states, asking them to consider a ban on private vehicles, barring those running on CNG.
In a letter to CPCB member secretary Prashant Gargava, Lal said all cities, which have similar emergency plans – like Paris or Beijing – include restrictions on private vehicles, which is done by either number plate or by fuel type or its age. He said vehicles contribute as much as 40 per cent of the total emission load in Delhi and roughly 30 per cent in the region. “In this situation, the only option is to look at either a complete ban on all private vehicles (without the identification of petrol or diesel), other than CNG and/or restriction on plying by number plate (odd-even),” he said. “However, please note that the odd-even scheme, as practiced in other cities for similar pollution abatement, is done for extended hours and includes all private vehicles,” he added.
In 2016, the odd-even scheme was enforced twice – January 1-15 and April 15-30 – in Delhi, when vehicles having odd and even numbers were allowed to ply on alternate days, as the air quality deteriorated. The odd-even scheme is a part of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), emergency measures implemented in phases to combat air pollution. It came into effect from October 15, 2018.
Lal said he understands that any restriction on plying of private vehicles, without adequate public transport, would create ‘huge inconvenience’ to people. “Even after removing trucks and other diesel commercial vehicles, which are the highest segment of this pollution load, the remaining vehicles add up to substantial load, particularly private diesel vehicles, which contribute substantially to both, NOx (nitrogen oxides) and PM (particulate matter) emission,” the EPCA chairperson said. He requested the CPCB-led taskforce to deliberate on this matter and give its recommendations at the earliest.
Noting that it is clear that the region’s own sources of pollution are greatly responsible for the poor air quality, Lal said the accumulation of pollutants post-Diwali and then, the addition of pollutants on a daily basis, combined with adverse weather (onset of cold and no wind for dispersion) have kept the region in very poor, severe and even severe-plus categories.
“This is extremely hazardous for our health and unacceptable. We also know that the role of crop burning has been to exacerbate this situation,” he said. “It is for this reason that the EPCA, for the past many years, has stressed on the need for augmentation of public transport, not just in Delhi but in the NCR. The Comprehensive Action Plan, which is now notified, but still nowhere close to implementation, includes time-bound action on public transport,” Lal said.
This is not the first time that Lal has recommended completely banning non-CNG private vehicles in the national capital. On October 31, 2018, he had proposed banning all private vehicles but this time he went ahead and proposed a ban on all non-CNG private and commercial vehicles.