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Saturday, Sep 21, 2019

Enforce odd-even only if pollution levels warrant it: EPCA chief

The comments came hours after Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal announced that the scheme will be in force in the capital during the first half of November.

delhi Updated: Sep 13, 2019 23:35 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi
School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), who had reviewed the previous two editions of the scheme, said the proposed timing of the third round of odd-even may not work.
School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), who had reviewed the previous two editions of the scheme, said the proposed timing of the third round of odd-even may not work. (Hindustan Times)
         

The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) chief Bhure Lal Friday said emergency measures such as an odd-even vehicle rationing scheme are warranted only when the air quality has deteriorated to “severe plus” category.

The comments came hours after Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal announced that the scheme will be in force in the capital during the first half of November.

“The measure should be taken only after consultation with EPCA, which is the enforcing authority for the graded response action plan (GRAP). If the air quality is not in the “severe” zone, it the odd-even scheme is not required,” Lal said.

Explaining the timing of the scheme, Kejriwal said in the first half of November, pollution in Delhi spikes due to smoke from stubble burning in neighbouring states and the aftermath of Diwali celebrations. “Odd-even is always an emergency measure. As smoke from stubble burning peaks during this time, we will be implementing the road rationing drive as an emergency measure,” Kejriwal said Friday.

The GRAP was notified in January 2017 to combat various levels of pollution in the national capital. Emergency measures such as odd-even are rolled out only when the air quality is in severe plus (when PM2.5 and PM10 levels breach the value of 300 and 500ug/m3) category for 48 hours or more.

O P Agarwal, CEO, WRI-India, said odd-even could be a good short-term emergency measure. “It could work as an emergency measure to reduce the number of vehicles during peak pollution days.”

Others believe the city is not prepared for such a measure.

“With the existing public transport, odd-even scheme might not bring the kind of relief that the government is expecting. If you are taking people off roads, where will you accommodate them?” Subhash Chand, head of traffic engineering and safety division, Central Road Research Institute (CRRI), said.

Sewa Ram, transport planning expert at the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), who had reviewed the previous two editions of the scheme, said the proposed timing of the third round of odd-even may not work.

“We had conducted a review after both phases of odd-even in 2016. In the first phase, what worked was that schools had vacations, which resulted in less traffic. This time, the hypothesis is that the results might not be as promising. The dates are right after Diwali, when people will be back on the road after vacation,” Sewa Ram said.

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First Published: Sep 13, 2019 23:25 IST