Even after the environment ministry issued a notification on Tuesday enforcing a graded response plan to tackle air pollution in Delhi-NCR, the authorities in cities such as Gurgaon and Faridabad are clueless about the directive and are waiting for orders from the state government.
The Environment Pollution Control and Prevention Authority (EPCA), formed under the Environment (Protection) Act and chaired by ex-secretary Bhure Lal, has asked all NCR cities to act as the air quality has been consistently marked ‘poor’ in the region.
However, the Gurgaon authorities said that they have no knowledge about the development.
“We have no idea about this notification yet. Our department has not yet received any order so far regarding implementing the odd-even road rationing scheme,” said Suprabha Dahiya, commissioner, transport, Haryana.
Meanwhile, Hardeep Singh, deputy commissioner, Gurgaon, said, “We will follow the directives of the Supreme Court to curb pollution in the city.”
However, the transport experts were of the opinion that things are not likely to improve in NCR even after the implementation of odd-even scheme.
The odd-even road rationing scheme was implemented in the national capital last April. Under the scheme, only cars with odd numbers will be allowed on the road on odd dates and even numbered cars on even dates.
“In cities such as Gurgaon and Faridabad where the local transportation is weak, odd-even plan is not likely to work. Also people will opt for taxis, which are also another form of private transport. The Centre is thinking about short-term solutions,” said Dr Sewa Ram, associate professor of transport planning in School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi.
With nearly non-existent public transport system in Noida and Ghaziabad, road rationing is likely to result in chaos. Half of 5,00,737 (petrol and diesel run) non-CNG four-wheelers registered in Gautam Budh Nagar and 1,46,075 non-CNG four-wheelers registered in Ghaziabad will be off road on the day the scheme is in force, wreaking havoc on intra-city commuting.
The authorities, however, said they are committed to protecting the environment.
NP Singh, district magistrate, Gautam Budh Nagar, said, “Supreme Court orders are sacrosanct and we will abide by them. Environment is the most important issue in the NCR and post assembly elections all stakeholders will be associated in taking steps to mitigate pollution.”
Officials in Rohtak and and Jhajjar said they were not aware of any such order.
Rohtak SP Pankaj Nain said: “I think odd-even is the most temporary solution to reduce pollution, and I particularly don’t support it. You can do it maximum for three months or so. The best thing is to make public transport competent enough to match with the comfort of cars. Such things are in cue.”
Jhajjar DC Ramesh Bidhan said there was no need of odd-even in the district. “May be in Rohtak, where autos are a problem, this should be rolled out. But in Jhajjar, traffic is not such a problem. We can think of doing it in Bahadurgarh main road, that too only on peak hours. Otherwise, pollution levels here are quiet normal. But we will follow with whatever the order says.”
He also said the governments should strengthen public transport and enforce use of CNG vehicles. “The NCR cities are still using non-environmental friendly fuel, which aggravates the issue of air pollution,” Sewa Ram said.
Manas Fuloria, CEO, Nagarro, chairperson, NASSCOM, Regional Council for Haryana, also shared the same sentiments but said the plan by the Centre shows that the government is taking the issue seriously.
“Practically, implementing the odd-even scheme might not impact much on pollution, however, it is a sign that the NCR cities will eventually opt for public transportation, which is required to lower the level of pollution,” Fuloria said.
With input from Pawan K Pandita and Hardik Anand