Desperate times call for desperate measures. The Delhi government’s answer to the city's pollution problem, however, raises its own set of questions.
A day after the Delhi High Court compared living in the city to living in a gas chamber, the government has decided to halve the number of private vehicles on Delhi's roads to halve its pollution. The drastic decision to allow vehicles with odd/ even licence plates on alternate days, however, is set to face enforcement obstacles.
Experts feel that though Delhi’s severe pollution crisis does require some urgent measures to tackle it, these should be thoroughly debated with all the stakeholders to ensure the much-needed public awareness and participation.
“There are many issues involved with the arrangement that the Delhi government has arrived at. Many cities have tried this before but as a temporary solution and only as a last resort,” said Nalin Sinha, Programme Director, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (India).
“Change can only be brought with public participation and without taking them into confidence and without any preparatory work, this measure could actually prove counter productive,” he said. “Before imposing such a rule, some alternatives should be available. The Delhi Metro is overcrowded and already running beyond its capacity and number of auto rickshaws in Delhi is limited,” he said.
A major problem, according to Mr. Sinha, is going to be the enforcement of the alternate day restrictions on private vehicles.
The Delhi government's transport department does not have more than 150 officials and it needs the help of the traffic police to ensure that only vehicles with odd/ even licence plate are out on the streets on the days mandated for them. The traffic police, too, is stretched when it comes to manpower.
“The move will definitely make people resort to using public transport. Unless, a ruling like this is implemented there will be less takers for metro and public buses,” said Shruti Nagpal, a DU professor.
However, Stuti Singh, a marketing professional, said, "This move will just prove to be a nuisance when you will have to take into calculation which day of the week you can take out your vehicle.”
“There should be no hue and cry over this. If the model can work abroad, it can work here too. I just hope it is strictly implemented and government works on improving the efficiency of public transport too,” said Mrinal Jha.
The city government also announced a series of radical measures to rein in ‘critical’ levels of air pollution in the national Capital.
Some of them include shutting down of the Badarpur Thermal power station, moving the National Green Tribunal to close the Dadri power plant which falls in Uttar Pradesh and making it mandatory for vehicles to have Euro VI standards for vehicular emission from 2017, two years before the Centre's scheduled introduction of the same.
— Inputs from PTI