How Bei­jing & Paris can help Delhi fine-tune pol­lu­tion fight

Both Have Used Odd-Even Scheme To De­con­gest Roads

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times City - Ri­[email protected] times­group.com

New Delhi: In ex­pec­ta­tion of high pol­lu­tions days from Novem­ber 4 to 15, Delhi gov­ern­ment has an­nounced odd­e­ven road ra­tioning for this pe­riod. The mea­sure has been tried out in 2016 on two oc­ca­sions, and its im­pact on pol­lu­tion is still to be fully de­ter­mined. That is where per­haps the ex­pe­ri­ence in cities like Bei­jing and Paris can be a model for Delhi in its ef­fort to make ve­hic­u­lar re­stric­tions count.

Bei­jing im­ple­mented the pol­icy dur­ing the Olympic and Par­a­lympics Games in 2008. In 2013, it for­mu­lated emer­gency re­sponse pro­gramme for air pol­lu­tion and stip­u­lated the use of the road on al­ter­nate days by ve­hi­cles when­ever a red alert was is­sued. Bei­jing put the odd­e­ven scheme in op­er­a­tion in 2014 to cope with the se­vere air pol­lu­tion days. Other Chinese cities, such as Lanzhou and Ji­nan, also fol­lowed suit for a short pe­riod.

As in Delhi, the last num­ber on the li­cence plate, odd or even, de­ter­mined the day on which a ve­hi­cle is al­lowed on the road. But un­like in the In­dian cap­i­tal, where road ra­tioning was en­forced from 8am to 8pm in Jan­uary 1-15 and April 15-30, 2016, Bei­jing en­forces it through the 24-hour pe­riod.

Ac­cord­ing to a Cen­tre for Science and En­vi­ron­ment re­port, this move was ex­pected to ease traf­fic, with a pro­jected 35% drop in the num­ber of pri­vate ve­hi­cles on the roads. It was also es­ti­mated that three mil­lion trips would be un­der­taken daily via public trans­port once the mea­sure was im­ple­mented.

Paris too en­forced the odd­e­ven traf­fic mea­sure in 2014 when the pol­lu­tion reached dan­ger­ous lev­els. The CSE re­port says, “The re­stric­tions ap­ply in the city and 22 sub­urbs. There are ex­emp­tions for elec­tric and hy­brid cards, and any ve­hi­cle car­ry­ing three peo­ple or more. How­ever, the mo­tor­cy­cles are sub­ject to the odd-even rules.”

Im­por­tantly, Paris city of­fi­cials made travel on public trans­port sys­tems free for as long as the odd-even rule was in op­er­a­tion. Dur­ing the road ra­tioning ex­er­cise, driv­ers who de­fied the ban faced on-the-spot fines of ¤ 22 (around Rs 1,800) or ¤ 35 (Rs 2,850) if they paid within three days. The im­me­di­ate im­pact was the halv­ing of the usual num­ber of traf­fic jams.

Since Jan­uary 2017, Paris has also im­posed re­stric­tions on ve­hi­cles that can en­ter the city based on age and fuel on high pol­lu­tion days.

Bei­jing and Paris show that ex­emp­tions from the scheme should be lim­ited to es­sen­tial and emer­gency ve­hi­cles. Vi­o­la­tions should be de­terred with penal­ties to ef­fect bet­ter com­pli­ance.

The CSE re­ports also points out, “The du­ra­tion of the ban — odd or even — ex­tends to 24 hours, which makes it more ef­fec­tive and does not al­low peo­ple to take cars be­fore 8am (as was the case in Delhi). Avail­abil­ity of public trans­port is im­por­tant as the scheme is op­er­a­tional as a car-re­straint mea­sure.” The re­port also ad­vises that road ra­tioning must be used as an emer­gency mea­sure, and only dur­ing peak pol­lu­tion days, to drive down pol­lu­tion by tak­ing a large num­bers of ve­hi­cles off the roads.

Clar­i­fi­ca­tion

It was er­ro­neously men­tioned in a page 1 story and the head­line in the edi­tion dated Septem­ber 14 that CPCB had praised im­ple­men­ta­tion of the odd-even scheme in Delhi. It was a former air lab chief of DPCC who had de­scribed it as a good move. This was men­tioned cor­rectly in another re­port car­ried in­side. The er­ror is re­grett­ted.

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