As the Delhi government considers making the odd-even scheme a permanent feature to combat air pollution that is sometimes worse than Beijing’s, it may do well to take a leaf out of the Chinese capital’s approach to the problem.
In Beijing, odd-even restrictions are implemented as a temporary measure on red alert days.
Beijing issued its first-ever red alert for smog in the middle of March, urging schools to close and restricting traffic to keep half of the city’s vehicles off the roads. It also put restrictions on factories.
Red alert days are days when there is a forecast of high pollution levels over three days. In addition to cars being allowed to ply on alternate days, in Beijing, during the scheme, 30% government vehicles are banned.
“These are the mandatory emission control measures on days of red alert. It is only the electric vehicles which are given an exception,” said Zeng Jinghai, principle staff member of Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau. Zeng was addressing the Centre for Science and Environment conclave — Our Right to Clean Air on Tuesday.
In Beijing, the odd-even scheme is generally the last resort and the government has several other measures in place, such as stopping construction activities, limiting production of polluting plants and banning heavy duty vehicles.
While the Delhi government has been lenient on motorcycles and scooters and has exempted them from the odd-even scheme, Beijing has been actively working to eliminate two-wheelers and encourage use of electric cars. “We have stopped the registration of the new two-wheelers and for the old ones there are strict checks,” said Zeng.
Vietnamese officials at the conclave also highlighted the need to check emission standards to control pollution.
“Our government has been working on stricter enforcement of vehicle emission standards. It is not only automobile inspection but the government also has plans to check motorcycle emission,” said Phan Quynh Nhu of the Vietnam Clean Air Partnership.