All eyes on Delhi as city gears up to even pollution odds

  • HT Correspondents, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 01, 2016 08:25 IST
Commuters on motorbikes are seen at a traffic intersection in New Delhi on December 31, 2015. All eyes are on Delhi to see if it’s new odd-even scheme will work. (AFP Photo)

Many cities that face a pollution problem are keenly watching Delhi to see how the capital city’s newly introduced odd-even vehicle scheme fares once it is rolled out on January 1. A few places, such as Shimla, are willing to replicate the formula if it proves successful.

Stating that the scheme has the potential to regulate urban traffic and check pollution, Shimla deputy mayor Tikender Panwar said, “If the plan is successful in Delhi, we could introduce it here.”

Though Shimla’s air contains more nitrogen oxide than particulate matter (PM), its residents are not averse to letting their cars stay in the garage. A study by the town’s municipal corporation found that while 45% of its population prefers walking and 48% takes public transportation, private vehicles are used by a mere 7%.

Chandigarh, the capital city of Punjab and Haryana, is also toying with the idea of going the Delhi way. RP Upadhyay, its inspector general of police, had proposed earlier this month that the odd-even scheme be implemented in Chandigarh too. The police officer – in a communiqué to Union Territory adviser Vijay Kumar Dev – also suggested introducing a ‘car-free day’ in January as part of the traffic week celebrations.

Upadhyay is of the view that if flyovers and underpasses are not constructed, only the odd-even formula can reduce congestion on city roads.

Even Kerala’s relatively cleaner city of Kochi, which has seen pollution levels rising in recent times, is looking up at the capital city.

“We are keenly watching the Delhi experiment. Though it can’t be replicated fully here, we have to explore ways to contain the city’s poor air quality. The ongoing metro work has added to our woes,” said a Kochi Corporation spokesperson.

Interestingly, cities such as Patna – where the PM pollution comes up to almost double the national standard – don’t seem to have any plan to replicate the scheme.

The case is similar with Lucknow, which has been adjudged as one of India’s most polluted cities by the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research. Though Sanjeev Saran, principal secretary of the Uttar Pradesh department of environment, admitted that the city was choking, he said the odd-even formula wouldn’t work there.

(With inputs from state bureaus)

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