Odd-Even Scheme: Less Congestion Is Reducing Local Pollution, Says Experts

06/01/2016 1:16 PM IST | Updated 29/08/2016 9:41 PM IST
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Hindustan Times via Getty Images
NEW DELHI, INDIA - JANUARY 4: People and traffic police wearing a mask during the implementation of odd-even vehicle formula at ITO crossing on January 4, 2016 in New Delhi, India. Contrary to apprehensions, Delhi's odd-even vehicle scheme aimed at battling pollution did not lead to the feared problems on Monday, the first full working day of the New Year. The 15-day odd-even scheme started on January 1 and aims to put odd numbered vehicles on the roads on odd dates and even numbered vehicles on even dates. (Photo by Arvind Yadav/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

NEW DELHI -- Less congestion in Delhi owing to the odd-even car rationing scheme is shielding people from "direct exposure" to pollutants, especially in and around areas of high car density such as traffic junctions, experts opine.

The experts unanimously endorse that a 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.

However, they also warn against expecting any dramatic reduction in the amount of respirable particulate matters, PM 2.5 and PM 10, which depend on a host of atmospheric parameters.

The measures aimed at curbing pollution came into force on 1 January.

Dismissing murmurs that the pilot plan has yielded little gains until now, ecologists and urban planners contend while hostile weather conditions may be limiting the gains, it would definitely restrict the peak levels from spiraling out of hand.

Raj Cherubal of Chennai City Project said lesser congestion has proven that "there is space" on Delhi's roads for buses and measures like BRTS, while Shreya Gadipalli of Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) said the policy has created a platform "for a dialogue".

Anumita Roychowdhury of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said that a sharp drop of pollutants from the peak levels has been observed over the last few days and added, "When vehicles slow down due to congestion they emit more. Free flow of traffic helps prevent that."

"Congestion also causes pollution and it affects the lower middle class more who are directly exposed to criteria pollutants like oxides of nitrogen, sulphur dioxide and black carbon. Pollution should not be looked at only from the point of view of the amount of suspended particulate matters like PM 2.5 and PM 10. Cars not only take most of the space but also affects common people the most," Madhav Pai of EMBARQ said.

Holding it a "much needed start", Samar Halarnkar of IndiaSpend, a portal that runs a network of 'low cost sensors' across Delhi, said that enforcing the car rationing scheme is not enough and the government needs to focus on implementing all the other measures like shutting down the coal-based Badarpur thermal power plant.

Over 1.5 lakh cars were added to the city's roads this financial year along with 3.5 lakh bikes and scooters, taking the number of total registered vehicles whopping 88.

27 lakh, as per Delhi Statistical Hand Book 2015 released by the city government.

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