Odd-Even Rule Strikes Again

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 Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced.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.

Aayush Sharma, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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With 2015 declared as the hottest year in recorded history1 and 2016 poised to be an even hotter one2, smog levels leading to red alert in Beijing3 and once-in-a-century floods in Chennai4 were indications enough for global leaders to not take climate change as a joke.

While global efforts moved towards better self-committed goals of controlling emissions (although not legally enforceable) at COP-21 meeting in Paris in December, the Indian capital is all set for the Part II of the contentious odd-even rule. The rule is back in Delhi for another 15 days from April 15 onwards. The key question remains as to whether the potential benefits of the rule outweigh the negatives.

The IIT-Kanpur study5 on the potential benefits of such a scheme submitted late last year clearly highlights that only about 20% and 9% of the particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10 respectively) is emitted by vehicles (in general, and not only 4-wheelers, on which the rule would apply exclusively). In contrast, about 38% and 56% of the particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10 respectively) is caused by road dust, which is much more difficult to control. The study further estimated that using the rule to its full potential, Delhi pollution can only be controlled by up to 1%. A more conservative estimate which includes women exemptions, could reduce the impact to only about 0.5%.

The question then, is that is it fair for people to be subjected to such a high level of inconvenience for something that may not even achieve what it was meant for. While there are opinions on how odd-even rule can also lead to increase in economic output6, there is also an opportunity that is being seen by apps, especially those of start-up companies7.

References:

  1. The Guardian (Jan 20, 2016): Details of the Met Office, NASA and NOAA report

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jan/20/2015-smashes-record-for-hottest-year-final-figures-confirm

  1. The Guardian (Dec 17, 2015): Forecast report from US MET Department

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/dec/17/2016-set-to-be-hottest-year-on-record-globally

  1. BBC News (Dec 8, 2015): Detailed report

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-35026363

  1. Huffington Post (Dec 2, 2015): Detailed news

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/southern-india-major-flooding_us_565f3d5ce4b08e945fedb130?section=india

  1. Financial Express (Dec 25, 2015): Detailed finding of the IIT-Kanpur report

  1. An interesting guesstimate of the economic benefit that the odd-even rule may cause: Abhinav Minnala – Senior Product Manager at Oracle (Jan 31, 2016)

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/impact-delhis-odd-even-rule-its-economic-output-abhinav-minnala

  1. Times of India (Apr 9, 2016): “To cash in on odd-even exercise, firms coming up with appropriate response”

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/To-cash-in-on-odd-even-exercise-firms-coming-up-with-app-ropriate-response/articleshow/51751302.cms

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