Different offices starting and winding up work at different hours the National Green Tribunal has mooted this plan to decongest Delhi roads, specially during the morning and evening rush hours.
“We should discuss the possibility of having staggered office timings for different offices. Varying working hours could be a solution. Courts and government offices in Delhi open at 10 am and if we have a gap of one or two hours, this will help reduce vehicular emissions immensely. Pressure on buses, autos and metro during peak hours could be reduced. Even business establishments’ working hours could be regulated. The Centre can also take the universities along. If a child can go to school at 7 am, why can’t a graduate?” the bench said.
Road congestion and slow-moving vehicles are a major cause of air pollution, several reports have said. Slow-moving vehicles cause more pollution as compared to those that run on relatively empty roads.
The tribunal has, for now, only asked the government to consider the possibility and look for innovative solutions to curb pollution in Delhi, which is among the most polluted cities in the world. In 2014, the World Health Organisation declared that Delhi was the most polluted city in the world, a report that created panic among Delhiites.
The idea, however, is not new. Railway minister Suresh Prabhu, in 2014, had suggested that Mumbai and Kolkata adopt staggered work timings to reduce pressure on the public transport system, especially the local trains.
A staggered work timing system means that few offices may start work at 8am while others will start at 9am and so on. The time that these offices close will also be staggered similarly.
Singapore, where traffic congestion has been a major problem, has also adopted a similar system. The idea was floated by the Singapore government in 1975.
Even the International Labour Office advocates similar practices.
“Staggered hours schemes represent one way of easing problems of traffic congestion and over-burdened public transport at certain peak hours. Instead of having all workers arrive and leave at practically the same time, different firms or even different branches of activity could adopt different starting and finishing times. Traffic would thereby flow more smoothly, public transport would be utilized more rationally, and the physical and psychological strain would be lessened for all concerned,” an ILO document states.