The odd-even formula will be enforced in the entire national capital region, including Gurgaon, Noida, Ghaziabad and towns as far as Alwar, Rohtak and Meerut, when air quality in New Delhi reaches the “severe” level and stays that way for 48 hours.
According to the Supreme Court-approved graded action plan to tackle air pollution, the entire national capital region (NCR) will be treated as one. New Delhi is part of this region.
“Till more monitoring stations are set up, the moment air quality becomes foul in Delhi or there is a forecast for bad air, we will ask the other NCR states to implement emergency measures, including the odd-even restrictions,” said Bhure Lal, chairman the top court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA).
However, Gurgaon and Faridabad authorities say they have no clues on notification to enforce odd-even scheme in the NCR towns . The radical formula was tried before in the Capital for two fortnights last January and April, restricting vehicles from roads on odd and even dates based on the last number of their licence plates.
The city of above 20 million, which ranks among the world’s top cities with foul air on a WHO list, has been struggling to clean up its air that contains a toxic cocktail of dust, smoke and gases from vehicle and factory exhausts.
Authorities and experts have warned that the landlocked city’s air quality cannot improve unless adequate measures are taken in the whole of NCR, which involves territories governed by neighbours Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan.
The EPCA is responsible for enforcing the graded action plan across NCR towns.
The Supreme Court asked the Central Pollution Control Board on December 3 last year to install real-time and manual pollution monitoring stations in New Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to check air quality for the graded response system. It gave six months to implement the order.
“There are not many monitoring stations across the NCR. So, at the moment, it has been decided in consultation with all the states that Delhi’s air quality will be taken as proxy for the whole region,” said Sunita Narain of the Centre for Science and Environment, who is a member of the EPCA.
Since the odd-even scheme is a drastic measure, it would be enforced only during extreme situations, she said.
Government agencies across the NCR are clueless about the odd-even measure coming their way.
“The public transport system in Gurgaon is not adequate and implementing the odd-even scheme might create problem for commuters … We don’t have adequate buses and autorickshaws,” said Vivek Kalia, joint commissioner, Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon.
The deputy commissioner of Haryana’s Jhajjar, Ramesh Bidhan, believes there may not be any need to bring the entire district under the sweeping scheme.
“Maybe in Rohtak, where autos are a problem, this should be rolled out. We can think of doing it in Bahadurgarh main road, that too in peak hours. Otherwise, pollution levels here are quiet normal.”
The EPCA has called a meeting on Friday to discuss issues that are bound to spring up when the entire NCR is brought under odd-even.