Opinion | Deteriorating air quality proves odd-even was thought well in time
Delhi government has again come up with odd-even road rationing scheme. It will be implemented from November 4-15. Its preparations are in full swing. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has already announced on how it will be implemented across the national capital.
At this point, let us think whether it is worth it. The government had planned for odd-even scheme in advance and there was reluctance from various quarters in accepting the scheme which intends to address the menacing air pollution.
Now, as the odd-even scheme is slated to start in sixteen days to be precise, we have experienced that the air quality has deteriorated. Just two days back, the AQI in Delhi entered into ‘very poor’ category giving signals on the days ahead.
It has always been seen that the air quality deteriorates during the winter. And, it happened this time as well. Just at the onset of the winter, we are seeing deteriorating air quality. So, in a way, it can be said that Delhi government was bang on with its plan ahead of the winter.
Odd-even is a flagship scheme of Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). It was first implemented on January 1, 2016 as an anti-pollution measure for the first time in India’s history. The national capital is notorious for bad air quality. It has been so for a long time.
History is witness to the severe air pollution that the city is enduring for a long time. It had forced the earlier government to launch CNG as an alternative to fuel for commercial vehicles plying in the city. It was need of the hour and there was no other option but to go for it as people in Delhi were struggling to withstand the polluted air.
Now, many years have gone and with drastic rise in the number of vehicles on Delhi roads, the situation in Delhi has come back to square one. Despite commercial vehicles being run only on CNG, we often see the air quality slipping into ‘very poor’ and 'severe' category.
So, was odd-even scheme a need of the hour yet again? At least, the sudden dip in the air quality advocates that premise. In fact, it looks like something or the other should be done ahead of winter every year to check the rising air pollution.
The dates, when odd-even scheme will be in place, are not too far away. So far, the government has shown its interest in putting effort to check pollution. The ball is now in the court of the people. They need to show that they are the real denizens of Delhi by participating with full support and compliance to the rules laid down by the government for the scheme.
The rules have already been announced by the CM. The odd-even scheme will be in force from 8 am to 8 pm on all days except Sundays. Under this, vehicles with number plates ending with even numbers will be allowed to ply on even dates whereas vehicles with number plates ending with odd numbers will ply on odd dates.
This time, the fine for violation has been increased to Rs 4,000. It was Rs 2,000 in April 2016 when the scheme was last implemented. It shows how serious the government is in implementing the scheme.
The exemptions include two-wheelers; vehicles carrying children in school uniform; vehicles driven by women and carrying children up to 12 years; vehicles carrying persons with disabilities; emergency vehicles such as ambulances, hearses, fire brigade and jails; people being transported in medical emergencies; and vehicles of President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, Union Ministers, Governors and Chief Ministers of States.
While announcing the scheme, Kejriwal said that the government has set up a centre next to the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) office near India Gate. He informed that the centre is taking samples of air on a daily basis.
Kejriwal said, “The base data of air quality will be prepared after analysing the samples for a year. From next April onwards, we will be able to furnish the details of pollution and sources every four hours. It will be like real-time monitoring. For this, machine has been installed. For specific outcome, one year of a base-level study is required.”
That is how the situation is in the national capital at present. A lot of emphasis has been given on checking air pollution. The Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) has also been in force across Delhi-NCR. Now, it is all up to the people of Delhi-NCR to make all the efforts taken by the government a success. They have this opportunity knocking their doors very soon.