Odd- Even and Out

urban traffic jam in a city street road during evening rush hour

Delhi government has launched the second innings of its Odd-Even scheme on 15th April. It is going to study the scheme for next 15 days before taking a final decision on making the scheme permanent. As per the scheme, four-wheelers with odd number plates will ply on odd dates and those with even number plates will ply on even dates. The rules will be in force from 8 am to 8 pm with Sundays being exempted. Women drivers and VIP vehicles have been exempted from the rule.

The scheme has been borrowed from Beijing where it was launched just before 2008 summer Olympics. In Beijing, the rule turned out to be operationally successful and government made it permanent. In Delhi, the scheme was first launched on 1st Jan 2016 after Delhi High court directed Delhi govt and Central govt to take measures for checking the air pollution levels in Delhi which had risen to an alarming rate.While a lot of political debate on success and failure of the scheme has taken place, also there has been a lot of scientific data released on impact of scheme in January. The data has been released in terms of the Air Quality Index studying amount of particulate matter and other harmful gases present in air during a particular time on a particular day. On the face of it, data as such suggests not much impact has been done by Odd-Even in bringing down pollution levels. However, recently new studies have been conducted which link the high pollution level to the wind speed. Slower the wind speed, slower will be diffusion of pollutants and longer they will stay in air. Odd-Even or no Odd Even, pollution level will be impacted more by weather instead of vehicles in the short term whereas in the long term the pollution will greatly be reduced with decrease in number of vehicles.

It is said that “numbers can speak any language”. Same is the case with Odd-Even. Talking about scientific data, instead of  helping a common man to understand the impact and usefulness of this scheme, it has confused him even more. One does not understand if Odd-Even is a success or a failure; if it is making any impact at all or none. Thus, people tend to frame their own opinion based on their limited knowledge and share their perception. Most of the perception so shared is based on personal convenience i.e. how the scheme is impacting comfort and convenience of the person. They fail to realise that an effort has to be made to check rising pollution and it is extremely necessary to do an unbiased and scientific reasoning based study of the scheme. If it’s failing then what is the next effort we should make? If it’s working, then how can it be made better! This should be the public discourse unlike mud slinging or rooting for your favourite political party.

There are various concerns which government also needs to address at the same time e.g. lack of public transport, exemption granted to women and VIPs. When CM can carpool to office, why is exemption given to VIPs? Is it because CM needs to indulge in symbolism? Or is it because women and VIP cars don’t cause pollution?  It’s time for us to be sincere.

After the trial run of Odd-Even is over let’s come together and share our opinions and reasoning on SWIPE (download the app https://goo.gl/oIXioK). Our strength lies in our sound and reasoned arguments which we can put forth to government in an apolitical and neutral manner.

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