Among many other critical issues Delhi is facing at present, one that needs immediate and serious action is reducing the alarming rise in the pollution level. You can imagine how critical the situation is by looking at the current pollution levels in various parts of the city, which is over six times the safe limit in most of the areas including Anand Vihar, Punjabi Bagh and RK Puram.
The alarming rise in pollution can be analysed in this picture which compares lungs of a 55 year old man living in Himachal Pradesh with a 52 year old man living in Delhi.
To control and reduce pollution, Delhi government has come up with an odd-even car formula and is planning to implement it in Delhi from 1st of January. According to this rule, vehicles with registered plate numbers ending with an odd number will be allowed to run on odd number dates and those which end with even number will be allowed to run on even dates. This is a pilot project which will remain effective from January 1 to January 15, 2016.
In order to avoid people violating the restrictions, government may slap a hefty fine which may lie anywhere between INR 5,000-10,000.
Though some serious actions needs to be taken to overcome this situation, but the rule has started never ending debates in the city with many people opposing the decision considering the safety issues, availability of public vehicles, low frequency of autos/buses etc in mind.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) asked questions from the Delhi Government over the consequences of the odd-even formula and how they have planned to overcome them. According to NGT, the formula may compel people to buy two cars which can lead to more problems. In reply to this, the government said that only those people will buy two cars who want to play with people’s lives. NGT also raised questions over government’s plan to introduce 6000 new buses and asked government to make sure that these buses will not cause or raise the pollution level.
While there may be some loopholes in the implement action of this rule but the Delhi government is backing this formula, saying that 60% of the pollution in winters is due to vehicular pollution, quoting a study conducted by IIT Kanpur. According to Delhi Health and PWD minister Satyendar Jain, it is important to curb the pollution from vehicles in winters due to the nature of pollutants.
Experts have raised questions over the efficacy and availability of public transport, since the government came out with the announcement of odd-even formula. To overcome with these problems, Delhi government is planning to launch an auto-rickshaw booking application – “PoochoO,” developed by the Delhi Integrated Multi-Model Transit System (DIMTS). According to Delhi Transport minister Gopal Rai, the plan is to bring all 90,000 autos and 30,000 black and yellow (kaali-peeli) taxis under this app which will help locate autos nearby and connect the commuter directly with the auto driver. Auto drivers who don’t have a smartphone can even register under this app.
Keeping safety and health issues in mind, government is planning to exempt lone women drivers, vehicles carrying only women passengers and those carrying patients from this rule.
The government will also shut down coal-ash spewing thermal power plants, will prevent the burning down of garbage and from the nest spring, planning to deploy powerful vacuum cleaners to get rid of the dust from the roads. The Delhi High Court has already taken a step to control pollution by ordering app-based taxi services such as Ola, Uber to switch their cabs from diesel to CNG.
The formula will help reduce the alarming pollution level in the city or prove to be disaster, this lies in future, but an initiative to save the city should be welcomed and get public support to make it work.