In its third phase, this act to curb air toxins will run through November 13-17 throughout the Delhi-NCR region
Air pollution in our country’s capital has never been a stale topic to ramble on about. No matter when you get hold of the air toxicity levels pertaining to Delhi-NCR, they are always in red and multifolds above the safe level. To tackle the recent rise in the smog clouds, which hampered transportation and even caused severe accidents on highways, the Delhi government has announced that the third phase of its odd-even scheme will be implemented across Delhi-NCR. Like before, it will be effective for a 12-hour (8am to 8pm) duration every day, for five days, from November 13.
Exemptions - Same As Before
The exemptions list of the upcoming Odd-Even days in Delhi remains unchanged. So CNG vehicles, as before, are exempted. The CNG stickers which were given during the last stint of Odd-Even will be valid. Also, sole women drivers, vehicles with children in school uniform, two wheelers are also free to ignore the rule, besides VVIPs.
The exemption for women, children and emergency vehicles is understandable. Any more additions to that list reduces the efficacy of this pollution-tackling scheme. Let’s not forget, the ban on sale of BS III two-wheelers came into effect earlier this year. That means most of the two wheelers plying on roads do not meet the more stringent BS-IV levels of emission norms.
Will Public Transport Be Overburdened?
Kailash Gahlot, transport minister, said that the state government has directed the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) to hire 500 additional buses from contractors to accommodate the rush of commuters during the 5-day odd-even rule. "Delhi Metro has also promised to provide 100 small buses during the period. Schools will be free to provide their buses voluntarily. However, there will be no compulsion," he added.
Learning From The Past
The last two phases of the Odd-Even scheme did help in reducing congestion on roads and improving the air quality index in the Delhi-NCR region. However, air pollution from vehicles isn’t the sole perpetrator to Delhi’s choking conditions. Toxic release from other means, like burning of biomass, thermal power plants, industries and construction also contribute to them.
The governing bodies even ran campaigns to educate people to stop burning plastics, wood, crop residue and other unwanted articles in Delhi. But since that is randomly spread across one of the biggest cities in the world, it is hard to keep a track on who is doing what.
Is Odd-Even Scheme Required?
Another aspect which has come to light is that members of the task force on the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) never recommended the Delhi government to implement the odd-even scheme immediately. The reason being that smog conditions are expected to improve from November 11. As per the think tanks from GRAP, the pollution level will come down to the ‘very poor’ category, two levels below the ‘emergency’ category prevailing now. The GRAP task force consists of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) and the state pollution control boards.
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