The Odd-Even Scheme: A good start for the Capital

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post

Sukalyan Talukdar, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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There are no sources in the current document.

 Delhi being branded the most polluted city in the world (the WHO), the capital woke up to this new year with  road restrictions. The Arvind Kejriwal led AAP Government’s ambitious odd-even scheme made it mandatory for registered private vehicles ending with odd numbers to ply on odd dates and vice-versa. It remained effective from 8 am to 8 pm everday except on Sundays. Also, women drivers and CNG-certified vehicles were exempted from its ambit. Post the 15- days litmus test of the odd-even scheme in Delhi, the next big question is what should be the  future step. Should the plan continue?  If yes, what are the other contingencies that are to be brought within the loop?

Automobiles, being the second major source of air pollution, the Delhi Government rolled the odd-even agenda with a view to curb the hazardous menace. Activism of school and university students to the Chief Minister’s own deployment of the popular mass medium of the radio, it was a comprehensive effort to make the scheme a success.

An analysis of the impact of the pilot period of the odd-even rule highlights  that there were not any major changes in pollutants quantity. There were some impacts such as peak pollution control despite fog and adverse weather, particulates and Nitrous Oxides from cars were reduced by almost 40% . The USP of the scheme however remained decongestion of roads. Even those seemingly skeptical of the scheme, enjoyed the otherwise much unlikely scenario of breezing through the ever-bustling Delhi roads. However, it is important to remain alert to the ultimate goal of the project- which is to improve the quality of air and not that of traffic.

To ensure better health for its citizens, the Government may also extend the rule to two wheelers. It may also start tax benefits for CNG and Hybrid vehicles while providing separate lanes for bicycles. The Government should also consider implementing strict pollution norms such Bharat VI and phasing out of older vehicles. As D. Raghunandan of Delhi Science Forum highlights, the Government must emphasize on improving the quality of public transport which includes expansion of the bus fleet to cater to the needs of the commuters.  Nevertheless, there will be challenges like unavailability of space for Bus Depots. This scheme will also not attain its optimum sucess if the Government cannot expand the rule to other parts of the NCR such as Gurgaon, Noida and Gaziabad.

Interestingly, there were petitions against this rule in the Delhi High court which however the Court  rejected. The Centre dubbed it “bound to fail” while  criticisms against the scheme afloat the social media, often making the Chief Minister the butt of jokes.But in spite of all skepticism, we can say that it is indeed a brave and an innovative step. Now it all depends on the AAP Government of how they take this mammoth task forward.

References:

  1. Sethi, Nitin. Business Standard. Kolkata, Volume XLI Number 207, p11.
  2. Raghunandan, D. Interview. Newsclick. Retrived from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvCysHIMAiY as on 16th Jan’16
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