The odd-even scheme has succeeded in lowering pollution levels in Delhi in the past week though the overall air quality is worse than last winter, a Supreme Court-appointed monitoring body has told the Delhi high court.
A report on one week of the road-rationing scheme, prepared by the Environment Pollution Prevention and Control Authority (EPCA), is likely to boost the Arvind Kejriwal government’s push to extend the 15-day trial period, which will end on January 15.
“There has not been a single good air quality day this winter,” the report said but added that despite hostile weather conditions – no wind, temperature dip and western disturbance – the peak pollution in the past week has been much lower. It said western disturbance has brought moisture, which traps pollutants, but this combined with “near, still and no-wind conditions” have made the air quality very bad.
Winds help in lowering pollution levels by blowing away the toxic air.
“But this time, because of the odd-even scheme in operation, the pollution peak is less and so air is less hazardous (or not as hazardous as it could have been in these conditions),” the report added.
In Delhi, the overall contribution of PM2.5 – fine particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers that can penetrate into the lungs – is from road dust while vehicles are the second largest emitter of the pollutant. Particulate matter are said to cause long-term health effects such as lung diseases and even cancer.
The report said both particulate and nitrogen oxide load from vehicles has reduced substantially during odd-even days by about 40%. “Higher share of pollution benefits have come from reduction in diesel cars,” it added. “Higher occupancy of cars due to carpooling and sharing has also reduced per capita toxic emission of car users… This is a significant contribution of Delhiites to pollution control efforts that needs to be respected and encouraged for longer term solution,” the EPCA said.
The EPCA added that if the adverse weather conditions continue to afflict Delhi, than the programme should be continued. On Wednesday, the high court had asked the Aam Aadmi Party government if the 15-day trial run of the odd-even road-rationing rule could be cut down to a week as people were facing difficulties because of inadequate public transport to support the scheme. In reply, the government has asserted that the scheme was working and hinted at extending it beyond January 15.