Delhi to follow Paris and Beijing's anti-pollution policy
Supreme Court approved the 'Graded Response Action Plan' for New Delhi, featuring emergency measures like odd-even scheme and halting of construction activities to improve the capital's air quality. According to this plan, a fixed set of measures will be implemented when pollution reaches levels categorized as emergency, severe, very poor and moderate. The Graded Response Action Plan is also implemented by Paris and Beijing.
Private vehicles in Delhi with odd and even registration numbers are to be allowed to ply on alternate days only. However, CNG fuelled buses, taxis and rickshaws are exempt from the rule.
The Delhi government announced that movement of private vehicles will be restricted to alternate days in an attempt to control the deteriorating pollution situation in the capital. Delhi surpassed Beijing last year to become the world's most polluted city, according to a WHO report. The move termed "road space rationing" is widely practiced in many cities in the world including Beijing and Paris.
Delhi's air pollution levels have become a health hazard over the last few years and vehicular traffic is a large contributor. Delhi also has severe traffic snarls during peak hours and the move will go a long way in improving traffic conditions. More efficient road space allocation will also improve the overall carbon efficiency of the city saving fuel and money.
Many areas in Delhi don't have an efficient public transportation system. Frequency of metro trains will have to be increased to accommodate more passengers. Increasing the number of buses and taxis will have the same effect on traffic that it does now. A car is legal property of a citizen and such a move may infringe upon the fundamental rights of the citizen.
Paris implemented the rule during emergency pollution situations in 2014 and 2015 and successfully curbed pollution levels both times. Beijing implemented the rules during the 2008 Olympics and successfully reduced traffic and pollution over one month. In Mexico City, the rule has been implemented since 1989 but has been largely unsuccessful. Colombian capital Bogota unsuccessfully implemented the rule in 2010 for two months.
The Chief Justice of India, TS Thakur said today that "judges have no problems with the odd-even formula of the Delhi government". CM Kejriwal hailed this statement as a victory and a strong endorsement of his government's attempt to curb air pollution levels in Delhi. The Delhi government set 1 January as the date that this decision will come to force.
Delhi's Transport Minister Gopal Rai stated that the odd-even formula will be enforced from 8am to 8pm and no restrictions would be enforced on Sundays. He added that odd-numbered vehicles will ply on odd dates and even-numbered on even dates, instead of followings days as was earlier stated. The Delhi Pollution Control Committee will also test changes in pollution levels after the initiative begins.
Delhi CM announced that the odd-even formula "will be enforced in Delhi in the first 15 days of the New Year." Those exempted from the rule are "women drivers, women driving with children below 12, CNG cars and a long list of VIPs". He announced that a fine of Rs.2,000 will be imposed on those not following the restrictions enforced.
Kejriwal announced that he and the other Delhi legislators won't be exempted from the odd-even formula, he further said "I won't be exempted, neither my family members. This scheme is for you, for your kids. We are all coughing. It is for the environment."
Robert Vadra criticized the privilege granted to VIP vehicles by the AAP government in its 'even-odd scheme' to check pollution, saying everyone should adhere to the law. In a Facebook post, he said that these exemptions were "creating parallel lists of exemption, is complete hypocrisy." Interestingly, Vadra himself is on the VIP exemption list and thereby enjoys the privilege of not getting frisked.
Delhi high court asked Arvind Kejriwal government as to why women and two-wheelers have been exempted from the odd-even scheme. The plea to stay the exemption was brought before the HC by Karuna Chhatwal, a concerned citizen. The court directed the government to submit a status report before 4 January 2016, furnishing details on the impact of such an exemption once it is implemented.
According to a report by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), air quality in Delhi worsened after the implementation of odd-even. Following this report, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed the Delhi Chief Secretary, Delhi Pollution Control Committee and stakeholders to hold a meeting. In the meeting, solutions to tackle the deteriorating air quality of the national capital are expected to be discussed.