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Not just odd-even, long-term solutions needed to reduce pollution, say environmentalists

PTI | New Delhi | Updated: 13-09-2019 17:15 IST | Created: 13-09-2019 17:15 IST
Not just odd-even, long-term solutions needed to reduce pollution, say environmentalists

Environmentalists have called for long-term solutions to deal with rising pollution levels in Delhi rather than a "knee-jerk" action like the odd-even scheme, with some terming it a "political gimmick" ahead of the assembly elections due next year. The odd-even road rationing scheme will come into effect in Delhi from November 4-15, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced on Friday among a slew of other measures to combat high-level of air pollution caused due to stubble burning in neighbouring states during winters.

D Saha, former air lab chief of Central Pollution Control Board Director, said it is a "good move" but there is a need to minimise exemptions given under the odd-even scheme to accomplish the objectives. "The purpose of the scheme gets defeated if you allow all commercial vehicles, Ola and Uber. You're just reducing the number of private vehicles on the roads and adding commercial vehicles," he said.

"Of course, the road rationing scheme has helped bring down pollution levels. If you reduce the number of vehicles on the road, there will be more space available for others to drive. This means better speed, better utilisation of fuel and less emissions," he said. The period the government has selected -- from November 4 to 15 -- is apt. The meteorological conditions doesn't help in reducing pollution during this period, he said.

"Delhi experiences bad weather in this period and 'poor to severe' air quality. So, if the road rationing scheme is implemented, it will certainly help reduce pollution," Saha said. Jyoti Pande Lavakare, co-founder Care for Air NGO, said odd-even is more of an "awareness building issue" than a scheme to actually reduce pollution.

"Ahead of elections, both BJP and AAP have been trying to take credit of reducing pollution in national capital but there is no concrete evidence of any actual reduction of pollution in the last few years. Kejriwal's announcement on odd-even scheme is more of a political gimmick," she said. Lavakare further said that instead of knee-jerk reactions what Delhi needs is a bouquet of long-term solutions that are implemented throughout the year.

Ravina Kohli, an environmentalist and a member of #MyRightToBreathe campaign, said long term solutions are needed to treat the issue of air pollution in Delhi. "The odd-even scheme is not going to impact much and ahead of polls, cure of air pollution is flavour around. But what is needed is long term solution," she said.

She said strict implementation of the scheme is needed to have an actual impact. Jai Dhar Gupta, an environmentalist, said the odd-even scheme cannot be scheduled in the way it has been done.

"The Delhi government has done it for pollution. It is much bigger issue than it is being treated as. There needs to be a serious and committed plan to counter it," he said. Kejriwal Friday announced the odd-even scheme as part of the seven-point 'Parali Pradushan' action plan that also includes mass distribution of anti-pollution masks, mechanised sweeping and water sprinkling on the roads, tree plantation and special plans for 12 pollution hotspots in the city.

During 12 days when the scheme will be implemented, vehicles will ply alternately on odd and even dates as per their registration numbers. In the previous two experiments in January and April in 2016, a fine of Rs 2,000 was imposed on the violators of the rule.


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