AAP’s Ashutosh on Odd-Even: Delhi Has Led the Way For the Nation
Fortune magazine, which has included Arvind Kejriwal, the Delhi Chief Minister, among the 50 most powerful leaders globally, due to this scheme has claimed that pollution was reduced by 13%. (Photo: <b>The Quint</b>)
Fortune magazine, which has included Arvind Kejriwal, the Delhi Chief Minister, among the 50 most powerful leaders globally, due to this scheme has claimed that pollution was reduced by 13%. (Photo: The Quint)

AAP’s Ashutosh on Odd-Even: Delhi Has Led the Way For the Nation

Odd-Even is back on Delhi roads and with it has returned the debate of whether it is effective in curbing pollution. It will be more prudent to measure the effectiveness of Odd-Even in terms of pollution control, once the second round is over by the end of the month.

But there is no denying the fact that the first round of Odd-Even has not been “too successful” in reducing pollution on Delhi roads. Though, last time the Delhi Pollution Control Committee had claimed that pollution came down by 50%, it would be naive to believe that data.

More correct data emerged later. Fortune magazine, which has included Arvind Kejriwal, the Delhi Chief Minister, among the 50 most powerful leaders globally, due to this scheme has claimed that pollution was reduced by 13%.

Politics in Delhi has become so vapid that the claims and counter claims can be made depending upon the ideological spectrum of the individual. A defendant can easily quote the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority which had then said, “Both particulate matter and nitrogen oxide load from cars have reduced substantially by as much as 40% in the first week of its implementation” and can equally make tall claims but the reality is that gains of the Odd-Even scheme can’t be measured in tangible terms.

Not a Permanent Solution

First, we all have to understand that globally the Odd-Even scheme is not a permanent solution. It’s an emergency provision. China probably is the only country which has implemented it for the longest duration of three months during the 2006 Olympics.

A city like Athens continuously monitors pollution and people are informed through public broadcast system. In case of an emergency, the city is immediately divided into two zones - inner and outer and accordingly the Odd-Even scheme takes off until the pollution comes down within permissible limits. A city like Sao Paulo has been experimenting with Odd-Even since 1997 and is implemented only once a week whereas in Colombian city, Bogota the frequency is twice a week.

Permanent Solution

Delhi was declared as the most polluted among 160 cities across the world in 2014. And pollution of this proportion can’t be controlled through Odd-Even only. A permanent solution has to be found.

The public transport has to be improved manifold. The frequency of the metro has to be increased with the number of coaches being increased from 6 to 8. Buses plying on the roads should be increased to at least 10,000 to discourage daily commuters from using cars.

Diesel vehicles have to be banned if we all want to live in a healthy environment. Thankfully, the Green Tribunal has taken a bold initiative in this regard and temporarily put a ban on such vehicles. Like Singapore, car and space permit system can be a good option. Delhi can imitate London too which has made car parking very expensive. In London local administration charges 10£ per hour.

And above all citizens have to develop the habit of using public transport more often than not. It will not happen overnight, it will take time. But the fact is that people are changing.

I met a young boy in the metro and he proudly told me that during Odd-Even, he would take his car from NOIDA to Gurgaon one day and use the metro the other day. He told me that he found it quite enjoyable! He was willing to make this sacrifice for a healthy future.


Traffic police men slap a challan to a commuter for riding with number plate ending with an even digit in New Delhi  on the first day of the second phase of  odd-even scheme. (Photo: PTI)
Traffic police men slap a challan to a commuter for riding with number plate ending with an even digit in New Delhi on the first day of the second phase of odd-even scheme. (Photo: PTI)

Snapshotclose

Right to Clean Air

  • First round of Odd-Even has not been “too successful” in reducing pollution on Delhi roads, with credible data claiming that pollution was reduced by 13%.
  • Permanent solution would be revamping public transport to discourage commuters from using personal cars.
  • Delhi has busted several myths with people abiding by odd-even policy and participating in the new model of governance.
  • Delhi has paved way for other cities to implement similar pollution control measures and take citizens into confidence.


Civil defence volunteers stand on Delhi roads holding placards on the Day-5 of implementation of state government’s odd even formula in the national capital on January 5, 2016. (Photo: IANS)
Civil defence volunteers stand on Delhi roads holding placards on the Day-5 of implementation of state government’s odd even formula in the national capital on January 5, 2016. (Photo: IANS)

Involving People in Pollution Control Measure

But the old world of Delhi revels in myth making. The myth has been created that people of Delhi are very impatient on the roads and they don’t adhere to rules like people do in Mumbai. The successful implementation of Odd-Even has demystified this notion. It has evolved a new model of governance and shown the world that participatory democracy is the NEW FUTURE.

All the political pundits and analysts were skeptical and predicted doom; they said that IT WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE TO put Odd-Even into practice. In the beginning, even the Delhi government was also nervous but the government initiative to involve people in policy formulation and encourage people to participate in the largest possible discussion about the scheme was the reason for the stupendous success in the first phase.

There has been a lot of criticism of exemptions given because they have lowered the impact of the scheme. Partly, I do agree but according to a senior minister in the Delhi government it was an exercise to earn the confidence of the people and prepare them for harsher steps. I was told that there was pressure on the government to announce policy details in the middle of December last year but it was delayed for another week to invite more public opinions and finally it was announced a  little closer to the date of implementation.

Evolving New Citizens

The success of the Odd-Even proves two things- One, Delhi is breaking the stereotypes and moulding into a city of NEW CITIZENS who are more concerned and aspirational about better living and are ready to experiment. This is a break from the past. Secondly, Indian democracy is evolving with the evolution of this new CITIZEN. This new citizen can’t be taken for granted and if it decides to be a stakeholder then it is willing to walk the extra mile with the government and cooperate in policy implementation.

Henry Kissinger once said that Bismark had the capacity beyond the limits of the boundaries of Germany as a nation. India as a nation is at the threshold of history where it has potential to cross its boundaries and become Bismarkian, if I dare use the metaphor. Odd-Even is just an indicator, leaders have to pick the hints and raise the bar for bolder moves in governance. Can we do it as a nation, is the question. Delhi has shown the path.

(The writer is an author and spokesperson of AAP. He can be reached at @ashutosh83B)

Also read:

Reducing Exposure to Pollutants Can Maximise Health Benefits

Odd-Even 2.0: Over 884 Violators on the First Day & Metro Snags

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