In­dia Inc Steps Up Ef­forts to Tackle Odd-even

Cos like KPMG, Sch­nei­der and Mi­crosoft are en­cour­ag­ing em­ploy­ees to work from home, while some are ty­ing up with bus shut­tle ser­vice providers

The Economic Times - - Career & Business Life - Prachi.Verma@ times­

New Delhi: In­dia Inc has stepped up ef­forts to make the Delhi govern­ment’s odd-even car plan has­sle-free for com­mut­ing em­ploy­ees.

A clutch of com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing KPMG, Sch­nei­der and Mi­crosoft, are en­cour­ag­ing em­ploy­ees to work from home and use the com­pany’s flexi-work scheme, while some are ty­ing up with bus shut­tle ser­vice providers.

“Apart from work­place poli­cies to en­cour­age bet­ter work-life bal­ance and op­ti­mise pro­duc­tiv­ity, em­ploy­ees can ex­er­cise flex­i­ble work­ing choices, ben­e­fit­ing from op­por­tu­ni­ties such as work from home and the op­tion to work part-time,” said Ro­hit Thakur, head-hu­man re­sources at Mi­crosoft In­dia. “For us at Mi­crosoft, we be­lieve that tech­nol­ogy can en­able and en­hance the mo­bil­ity and flex­i­bil­ity for our em­ploy­ees, driv­ing seam­less col­lab­o­ra­tion both in­side and out­side the of­fice.” MTS In­dia team and Snapdeal have ap­proached the teams of on-de­mand bus ag­gre­ga­tion plat­form Shuttl and taxi hail­ing ser­vice Ola to of­fer point-to-point shut­tle bus ser­vices. A spokesper­son for MTS said that more than 15% of its Delhi and Gur­gaon of­fice work­force is look­ing to use th­ese shut­tle ser­vices, while an­other 10% has de­cided to car pool.

Gur­gaon-based Snapdeal said it has other plans too. “This time around we are en­cour­ag­ing Freecharge users to use the re­cently-launched Chat’nPay ser­vice,” said Sau­rabh Nigam, vi­cepres­i­dent of HR at Snapdeal.

FreeCharge’s ‘Chat’nPay’ al­lows cus­tomers to make pay­ments in­stantly to any­body within their net­work. “This in­stantly re­moves the largest fric­tion of peo­ple set­tling their dues while car­pool­ing,” Nigam said.

How­ever, not ev­ery­one is con­vinced that the odd-even plan is suf­fi­cient to tackle the na­tional cap­i­tal’s pol­lu­tion prob­lem.

“Best prac­tices from across the globe sug­gest that vac­uum clean­ing of roads along with dili­gent con­struc­tion man­age­ment in­volv­ing de­bris and waste re­cy­cling/ dis­posal, high bar­ri­cad­ing, wa­ter sprin­kling, wheel wash­ing and us­ing geo-tex­tile sheet cov­ers, help to curb dust,’ said Akhil Bansal, deputy CEO of KPMG in In­dia.

Some stud­ies, in­clud­ing those by ex­perts from IIT Delhi, IIT Kan­pur and Univer­sity of Birm­ing­ham, have shown that city ve­hi­cles cont- ribute less than 30% to the PM 2.5 lev­els, and that cars ac­count for less than a fourth of the to­tal trans­port uni­verse.

The odd-even scheme, stud­ies show, will lead to only a 35% re­duc­tion in car traf­fic (with ex­emp­tions to women and school chil­dren, etc), which trans­lates into a less than 5% re­duc­tion in PM 2.5 lev­els.

As re­ported ear­lier, an IIT Kan­pur study has pointed to the country’s power plants, crop/bio-mass bur- Work-from-home and flex­i­ble work­ing are the op­tions most cos are bank­ing on for the sec­ond odd-even drill

This time, com­pa­nies are also part­ner­ing with shut­tle ser­vices providers ning (26%) and diesel ve­hic­u­lar pol­lu­tion (26%) as the main cul­prits.

“This minute re­duc­tion in PM 2.5 emis­sions by re­duc­ing 35% of car traf­fic is not mea­sur­able at all. Any change be­low 5% is dif­fi­cult to mea­sure,” said a lead­ing aca­demic IIT Delhi who was part of the re­port on the 15-day odd-even scheme in Delhi. The last odd-even rule was im­ple­mented in Delhi from 1st to 15th of Jan­uary 2016.

“There is no use de­vot­ing time and ef­fort to this ex­er­cise,” said the aca­demic who did not wish to be named. He, in­stead, lauded the ef­fort of the cen­tral govern­ment to in­tro­duce Euro 6 fu­els in the country.

Buses, three-wheelers and twowheel­ers col­lec­tively ac­count for about 20% of the trans­port sec­tor’s PM 2.5 emis­sions. Cars con­trib­ute far less.

The last time the 15-day odd-even rule was im­ple­mented, only odd­num­bered pas­sen­ger cars were al­lowed to ply on odd days and the even-num­bered cars on even days be­tween 8 am and 8 pm. The ve­hi­cles ex­empted in­cluded taxis, pas­sen­ger cars op­er­at­ing on CNG and elec­tric power, cars with only women, and two-wheelers. Most schools were closed dur­ing this pe­riod. “There is sure to be more traf­fic as all schools would be open this time,” said an­other pro­fes­sor.

Like last time, the em­ploy­ees of a lead­ing bank are look­ing at beat­ing the odd-even hours by com­ing in early and leav­ing late. “This is what most of our em­ploy­ees did last time in Delhi dur­ing the first phase of odd-even and they in­tend to fol­low the same this time too,” said a bank em­ployee.

Not ev­ery­one is con­vinced that the odd-even plan is suf­fi­cient to tackle the na­tional cap­i­tal’s pol­lu­tion prob­lem

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