Odd-Even Focusses Only on Car Pollution, Who Manages the Rest?

Garbage burning, construction dust and road dust are the main targets to reduce air pollution in Delhi.

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Why not make the main target the transport industry? (Photo: <b>The Quint</b>)

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his government have formulated the ‘odd-even’ policy to combat the deathly rising pollution level in Delhi.

However, the plan that is being devised by the government is not completely targeting the powerful transport industry, senior officials say. The federal plan will call for enforcing bans on minor sources of pollution, including burning of garbage in and around three cities and reducing construction dust by enforcing curtains to be put on all sites.

Heavy traffic moves along a busy road in New Delhi. (Photo: Reuters)
Heavy traffic moves along a busy road in New Delhi. (Photo: Reuters)

The measures are “by and large” reiterations of older rules that have rarely been enforced, the officials said. Environmental activists said the moves were cosmetic.

13 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities are in India. New Delhi being the worst.

The Supreme Court stepped in upon the lack of assertiveness from the government and banned the sale of luxury diesel vehicles. It also demanded taxes on trucks entering the city. The federal plan, which the two officials said would be made public within two weeks, will be one of the government’s first attempts to come up with a broad solution to the problem.

It’s a piecemeal approach, it will not drastically improve the air.
B Sengupta, Former Government Scientist

Though there isn’t sufficient evidence of the amount of pollution being contributed by vehicular emission, experts say the city that has a population of 16 million should have a permanent ban on the sale of diesel vehicles. The ban is currently only till March 2016. In addition, they mention imposing an annual tax on all cars, parking taxes and other means to reduce vehicle emissions.

Vehicular emission is a major contributor of overall toxic pollution and is a concern due to its direct exposure to the population
Anumita Roychowdhury, Executive Director, Centre for Science and Environment Think-Tank

Red Alert System

Delhi is considering an alert system that could ask schools to close and construction to stop if pollution levels go beyond ‘red alert’. However, the city first needs to expand its network of air monitoring stations. There are 29 at present, the officials said.

Levels of PM2.5 – tiny particulate matter that reaches deep into the lungs – touched 500, a level deemed “hazardous” that leaves even healthy people at risk of serious respiratory problems, data from the US Embassy’s monitoring station in New Delhi showed.
Air pollution in several parts of Delhi is at a critically high level. (Photo: Reuters)
Air pollution in several parts of Delhi is at a critically high level. (Photo: Reuters)

New Delhi has however pledged to bring forward tighter emission norms for vehicles and the transport ministry has said it would ban commercial vehicles that are over 15 years old from the country’s streets next year.

The automobile industry feels it is being singled out and that there is a need for a holistic plan – including the scrapping of old cars and a ban on burning of biomass and paddy fields – to improve air quality.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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