Odd-Even Rule: How successful it was?

Jan 29, 2016 18:14 IST

Delhi is the most polluted city in the world according to recent WHO report. Classified as the world’s fifth megacity, it has a population of 25.8 million, which continues to grow. With this growth, according to a study, the number of road vehicles would increase from 4.7 million in 2010 to nearly 26 million by 2030. The total energy consumption in Delhi has risen 57 per cent from 2001 to 2011.

A new study on air pollution in Delhi by a team of researchers led by the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom has found the city suffers from a toxic blend of geography (landlocked megacity), growth, poor energy sources and unfavourable weather that boost its dangerously high levels of air pollution.

What is Odd-Even Rule?

In view of the above threats and its devastating effects, Delhi Government started Odd -Even traffic policy on a pilot basis for 15 days starting from 1 January 2016. This measure was enforced to control vehicular pollution that contributes to heavy smog and bad air quality in the national capital.

According to this rule, on even dates, only cars with license plates ending with an even number were allowed on city roads, and on odd dates, cars with license plates ending with an odd number were allowed.

The rule was effective between Monday-Saturday between 8 AM to 8 PM. A fine of 2000 rupees was charged for non-compliance.

Further exemptions from this rule were applied to all CNG, electric and hybrid vehicles, two wheelers, women drivers, women drivers carrying children below 12 years of age, VIP vehicles, emergency vehicles like ambulance, fire, etc,

Efforts taken at various levels for success of odd even rule

  • Delhi government ran more buses on the street for ensuring a seamless, hassle-free experience for every day commuters. It ran 3000 extra buses on capital's road.
  • Twitter helped Delhiites search information about nearest bus and metro stations simply by using the hashtag #pollutionfreeDelhi and entering the origin and destination.
  • Ola, Uber started offering car pooling services, which came in handy for Delhiites during odd-even days. In fact, Ola’s 'CarPool' feature allowed residents in Delhi-NCR to pool rides using their private cars through Ola's app.
  • Even Delhi Metro ramped up its services during the 15-day trial period of the rule and ran 198 trains to make an additional 365 trips every day.
  • A website for car pooling was developed, www.odd-even.com  by a 13-year old student of Amity International School.

The Delhi government plans to bring back the odd-even exercise not once but twice this year. The second phase, likely in April-May 2016, may do away with exemptions for women while the third, in October 2016 may include two wheelers in the scheme.

Success of odd even rule

  • There was less congestion on Delhi roads owing to the scheme. This in turn shielded people from direct exposure to pollutants, especially in and around areas of high car density such as traffic junctions.
  • Reduction in the volume of cars was simultaneously bringing down levels of gaseous pollutants like oxides of nitrogen, sulphur dioxide and black carbon, which is a mixture of road dust and vehicle fumes.
  • According to Delhi Government, the first set of data collected with its mobile air quality sampling method, after the odd-even policy came into effect, is “encouraging”.  Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) says, on an average, PM 2.5 hovered around 250 micrograms per cubic metre in all locations and ranged between 109-226 micrograms per cubic metre. PM 10 was in the range of 149-503 micrograms per cubic metre, according to data from the mobile machines.

Problems with the scheme

  • Autos and taxis started fleecing people and charging higher fares thus harassing the public.
  • According to the study by IIT Kanpur, vehicles are number four in the hierarchy of pollution sources, accounting for 20 percent of PM 2.5 and 9 percent of PM 10 concentrations in Delhi’s air. Road dust is the city’s biggest polluter, accounting for 38 percent of PM 2.5 and 56 percent of PM 10 concentrations. Two wheelers, which are exempt from the odd-even rule, account for 33 percent of all PM10 and PM 2.5 emissions by vehicles.

Having said the success and problems with the scheme, the fact remains that the per capita incomes of Delhi’s citizens are rising steadily. It stands now around 2.4 lakh per annum which is three times the national average. This point toward increasing middle class and their aspiration. Therefore, efforts are also needed at the level of educating public and spreading awareness about the benefits of using public transportation.

Further only dealing with road space rationing policy would not solve the problems solely. It has to be supported with the effective transportation policy as well.

However, irrespective of whether the odd-even scheme was effective or not,  it has surely  been influential not just in Delhi but all over India as well. Thus, the trial period of the odd-scheme had an impact on the nation in more ways than one.

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Read more Current Affairs on: Odd Even Rule , Delhi Government , Air Pollution

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