Odd-even in Gurugram on ‘severe plus’, ‘emergency’ air quality days: Officials
Deputy commissioner Amit Khatri said the odd-even scheme could be brought in to check pollution levels if they turn dangerous.Updated: Oct 13, 2019 06:51 IST
The odd-even vehicle rationing scheme could be implemented in Gurugram when the air quality in the city deteriorates to the ‘severe plus’ or ‘emergency’ category, confirmed district authorities on Friday.
Deputy commissioner Amit Khatri said the odd-even scheme could be brought in to check pollution levels if they turn dangerous. “We are not ruling out the possibility of implementing the scheme in Gurugram on days with extreme pollution. Its implementation could likely be similar to the scheme in Delhi,” he said.
In a letter dated October 9 to all departments and authorities in Gurugram, detailing the guidelines and directions to check the worsening of the air quality index (AQI), the deputy commissioner asked the transport department to take action and implement the odd-even scheme “when the PM2.5 levels cross 300 ug/m3 or PM10 levels cross 500 ug/m3 (five times above the standard) and persist for 48 hours or more”.
However, last month, when the Delhi government had decided to implement the scheme this year, authorities in Gurugram had ruled out the possibility of it being implemented here due to the poor public transport system. Khatri had said that the Delhi government’s decision to implement it was an independent one. The Gurugram traffic police had said that only if authorities such as the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) or the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) issued a direction for its implementation, Gurugram would have look at ways to introduce such a scheme. “As per the EPCA’s order, we have reconsidered implementing the scheme,” Khatri said.
The EPCA had, in a meeting held last month, asked Delhi and its neighbouring states to start enforcing the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) from October 15. Measures under the ‘severe’ category under the GRAP include stopping construction activities, stopping the entry of trucks in Gurugram, introducing the odd-even scheme for private vehicles based on number plates, and deploying the traffic police for the smooth flow of vehicles at identified vulnerable areas.
Khatri said the GRAP measures would be implemented in Gurugram in “letter and spirit” and non-compliance would be taken seriously.
According to officials, a meeting will be held next week to decide on details of the odd-even scheme. “So far, we haven’t devised a concrete plan on implementing the scheme but it will likely be for private vehicles and will have certain exemptions on which we are working,” Imran Raza,secretary, regional transport authority, said.
He said the department would also work on strengthening public transport in the city, and that more forms of public transport could be brought in if the scheme is implemented. Raza added that the department is yet to discuss the details for the same.
In a letter to the CPCB last year, the EPCA had pointed out that vehicles contribute “as much as 40% of the total emission load in Delhi and roughly 30% in the region”.
Experts on transport in the city welcomed the implementation of the scheme in the city. Amit Bhatt, a transport export at the World Resources Institute pointed out that cars as a mode of transport account for only 19.3% trips in the city, as per the Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority’s comprehensive mobility plan. “With exemptions under the scheme, this percentage would likely be even lower and not a large percentage of the population would be impacted if the scheme is implemented in the city,” Bhatt said.
Pollution to worsen
The Air Quality Index (AQI) in the city on Saturday was in the ‘moderate’ category with a recording of 175. However, according to air quality experts, the AQI is likely to fall in the ‘poor’ category on Sunday.
Two days after the monsoon retreated from states neighbouring Delhi-NCR, thereby changing the wind directions and trapping the pollutants in the NCR, air quality is likely to deteriorate further, weather monitoring agencies have predicted.
The sudden drop in air quality is being attributed to the low ventilation factor and the stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana.
According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the south-west monsoon has withdrawn since October 9, after which the north-westerly winds became predominant, bringing with them smoke from Punjab’s stubble burning, adding to Haryana’s stubble burning, which has increased over the week.
According to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), the increasing biomass fire activities in Punjab and Haryana will now start influencing the region’s air quality. However, low mixing height and stagnant wind conditions are also to be blamed.
“Since the monsoon has just withdrawn, the lower surface winds are very low which is affecting the ventilation factor in the region, due to which pollutants are getting trapped. While the contribution from stubble burning is still not much, the locally generated pollutants and outside sources are getting trapped across Delhi and the NCR, which is affecting the air quality and will worsen in days to come,” Gufran Beig, director, SAFAR, said.
As per an EPCA advisory, air quality will worsen from October 12 onwards due to the weather conditions.