Experts suggest turning to odd-even, pollution masks
Quoting the executive director, Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, the Delhi government stated, “The January 2016 odd-even pilot plan reduced particulate air pollution concentrations by 14%-16%.”Updated: Sep 13, 2019 12:47 IST
Environment experts recommended odd-even road rationing and use of face masks as “short term measures” to fight pollution during the winter months when the air quality in Delhi reaches alarming levels, the state government said in a statement on Thursday.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday met environment and sustainability experts to formulate winter air pollution action plan so that the city does not turn into a “gas chamber”.
Quoting the executive director, Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, the Delhi government stated, “The January 2016 odd-even pilot plan reduced particulate air pollution concentrations by 14%-16%.”
“However, due to the possibility of compliance issues in the long run, it is best suited as an emergency measure during the winter, when vehicle emissions become problematic,” it added.
In 2017, a joint study conducted by atmospheric scientists of IITs and IIM, however, had revealed that in the first phase of odd-even scheme the levels of pollution declined only by 2%-3%. Only three areas in Delhi—Najafgarh, Shalimar Bagh and Greater Kailash—witnessed 8%-10% drop in pollution due to the odd-even scheme, the study showed.
Experts also said that the use of pollution masks could be beneficial as an effective risk-mitigation measure. “In a study done by EPIC India across 3,500 slum residents of Delhi in winter of 2018, it was found that take-up of masks was the highest when it was distributed free,” the statement said.
The suggestions specified that certain types of pollution masks (N90 or N95 masks) can be effective in reducing an individual’s exposure to outdoor air pollution.
The experts, however, added that along with short-term measures the government should simultaneously focus on augmenting its public transport system in the long run. Experts suggested long-term measures such as the implementation of Electric Vehicle Policy, Bus Aggregator Policy and reforms of pollution under control centres to combat air pollution in the city.
The state and Union governments have introduced several other measures, such as opening eastern and western peripheral expressways, shutting thermal power plants and crackdown on construction sites to control dust, that are showing results.
The average air pollution level in the first seven months of 2019 have been the lowest, compared to the corresponding period in previous years since 2012, Delhi Pollution Control Committee data showed.