Written by Pritha Chatterjee | Published: January 18, 2016 5:45 pmDelhi might actually miss odd-even policy/ Express photo by Ravi Kanojia
The odd even scheme has seen widespread debate over its impact on the quality of Delhi’s air. Some agencies have come out with data on dips in specific pollutants on certain dates, others have called such claims premature. So what makes it so difficult to arrive at a quantitative assessment of air quality that can be directly related to the restrictions imposed on vehicles during the fortnight January 1 to January 15?
There is a lot of disagreement between different agencies on the method of data assessment. While the Delhi government and some independent agencies like Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) have been going by daily peaks in measuring pollutants, others like the MoEF’s Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) have been taking daily averages. The former claim that the purpose of the ’emergency’ policy was to arrest the peaks in the pollutants during the winter so only the peak levels should be analysed.
The latter say that by studying only the peaks can be misleading, and averages are a more scientific way of assessing any impact on air quality. A third set of experts swear by spot measuring of pollutants particularly at roadsides and traffic signals, rather than measuring the ambient air quality as done by the above agencies. Their argument is that reducing the number of vehicles will impact roadside pollution levels far more than ambient air quality.
Most experts use the PM 2.5 — the fine particles in the air of less than 2.5 microns– as the direct indicator of the scheme. The argument being that the particles are associated with combustion and hence are most likely to be affected by reduced fuel combustion when the number of cars on the road is reduced. Still others insist gaseous pollutants like NO2 and CO provide a better method of analysis since these particles have multiple components from several sources other than vehicles.
The burning of crops, and open garbage burning is for instance also strongly associated with PM 2.5.
The AQI which was developed by CPCB last year has emerged as the universally accepted index of measuring air quality since. It relies on the most prominent pollutant. The index has not given any strong evidence to indicate an improvement in the air quality after the introduction of the odd even scheme. While this has been used to argue the scheme’s apparent lack of efficacy, some experts say that when prominent pollutants are not associated with vehicular pollutants, the AQI can’t provide any direct evidence of the impact of the odd even scheme.
Scientists also say two weeks is too short a time to gauge the impact of the scheme with any certainty. Many experts told The Indian Express that to scientifically validate its impact on air quality, it needs to be extended for longer, possibly for an entire season. Experts also say that the exemptions and the 8 am – 8 pm time schedule of the scheme made assessment more difficult. People used their vehicles before and after the hours of the scheme, and many vehicles were still on the road. Experts said the scheme needed to be imposed in a more stringent form for its impact to be properly assessed. Public transport also needs to be strengthened to eliminate the extra taxis which were used during the scheme.
Finally, any impact discovered by any method of analysis, and on any pollutant this season, is still being attributed primarily to meteorological factors rather than to emissions. For instance, the drop in pollutants measured in the second week of the odd even scheme after an initial spike in the first week is largely being attributed to this year’s unique weather phenomenon. Experts say high temperatures, low humidity and a high boundary layer of the atmosphere phenomenon uncharacteristic of Delhi winters – helped disperse pollutants in the second week of January.
Agencies like ministry of earth sciences’ SAFAR, IMD, CPCB and even DPCC have said that whatever impact has been seen — including spikes and dips in pollutants — has a lot to do with meteorology.
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Odd-even rule in Delhi: Arvind Kejriwal led Delhi government’s ‘Odd-even’ rule is back in its second innings. The odd-even rule will be applicable from today i.e. April 15 and will last till April 30. Under this scheme vehicles with odd and even numbers will be permitted to run on alternate days. Delhi government thinks restricting the number of cars running on the roads can can lead to dissipation of pollution levels in the city – studies have however, indicated that this is not the case and that other pollution-causing industries must be tackled first. The odd-even rule turned out to be a triumph in its first stage, as claimed by the Delhi govt. Just so you get everything right and don’t end up on the wrong side of the law, let’s take a look at the ‘Odd-even rule’, its origins, implications and some other crucial factors, including penalties:
What exactly is the odd-even rule?
Odd-even rule: Under this scheme vehicles are allowed to run across the city based on their registration numbers. For example, if a vehicle’s registration number ends with an odd digit, it will be allowed on the road on April 15, while those ending with an even number can be driven on April 16, and so on. For example, on dates ending with 15,17,19, 21 and 23, you can only drive a vehicle whose registration number ends with an odd digit such.
Where did Odd-even rule come from?
This odd-even system was executed in Beijing in 2008 just before the summer Olympics. The rule was initially temporary, but it turned out to be so operationally successful the government made it permanent. Similar road-rationing rules are imposed in many places around the world like Paris, Mexico and Bogota to curb road jams and pollution.
Why is Odd-even rule being enforced?
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.
Odd-even rule exemptions:
School children in uniform will be exempted from the ‘Odd-even rule’ in this second phase. Arvind Kejriwal-led govt has exempted women from the odd-even rule in its first phase, that continues to be the same this time too.
Some other points you should know about the second round of Odd-even rule in Delhi:
1. Odd-even rule defines which car you can drive on a particular date. On even dates, only cars with license plates ending with an even number will be permitted and on odd dates, cars with license plates ending with an odd number will be allowed.
2. Odd-even rule violation will lead to a levy of a fine of Rs 2,000 in accordance with the provisions of sub-section (1) of section 194 of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
3. Odd-even rule will come into force on 15th April, 2016 and will remain in force till 30th April, 2016. The Odd-even rule would be effective between Monday-Saturday between 8 AM to 8 PM.
4. Odd-even rule will not be applicable on emergency vehicles like PCR vans, fire tenders and ambulances, and on public transports like CNG-driven buses, taxis and auto-rickshaws.
5. Odd-even rule will be applicable only on private-owned four wheelers.
6. Delhi government has promised to run more buses on the street for ensuring a smooth, hassle-free experience for every day commuters. Also Delhi metro frequency, numbers and bogies will increase during this period.
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Tags:Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)Arvind KejriwalDelhiOdd Even Rule