Everything that you want to know on Delhi’s Odd-Even Policy
Delhi Government releases blueprint for Odd-Even formula December 25, 2015. In an attempt to curb alarming levels of pollution in the Indian capital, Delhi, authorities have announced that private cars with even and odd number plates will be allowed only on alternate days. Let’s see it in brief!
How will odd-even policy work out?
- The Odd-Even formula plan seeks to curb the number of vehicles plying in the national capital by limiting 4-wheelers on alternate days.
- Under it cars with licence plates ending in an odd number will ply on odd dates and those ending with an even number can run on even dates.
- This will be on a trial basis from 1 to 15 January, 2015.
- During this implementation, public transport including buses and the Metro will be run at high frequency.
- The government plans to run 6,000 more buses to accommodate those who can’t drive their cars.
Then, Who is exempted?
- The list of 20-plus exemptions from the restrictions include emergency vehicles, fire engines, ambulances, hospitals, hearses, prisons, VIPs, enforcement vehicles and defence ministry vehicles.
- Among VIPs, leaders of the opposition in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, Chief Ministers of states, Judges of the Supreme Court and high court and Lokayukta are exempt. <CM of Delhi is not exempted>
- CNG and electric vehicles are also exempt.
- Two-wheelers and vehicles driven by or occupied by handicapped persons and female drivers are also exempt.
So, Will it really help clean the Delhi air?
- The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), has welcomed the “emergency action to reduce vehicle numbers on the road” but questioned the absurdity of exempting 2-wheelers, which account for more than 30% of air pollutants generated by the transport sector in Delhi, and women drivers.
- According to the scientists of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), 80 per cent of PM 2.5 air pollution is caused by vehicular traffic and reduction in its levels, even in outer areas of Delhi shows that reduction of four wheeled vehicles on roads.
- The latest set of ambient air data collected at 18 locations across Delhi through mobile dust samplers shows a consistent trend of declining levels of PM 2.5 air pollution levels.
- If we take 250-300 as an average, then there is a drop of 100 points in PM 2.5 levels. This means there is a drop in pollution by about 25 percent. [ Isn’t it great! ]
But, Where did the odd-even idea come from?
Car rationing has been tried in many countries around the world.
- Rationalisation of the movement of private vehicles has been adopted in many countries, starting with Sweden (Stockholm) and extending to other European countries.
- China (Beijing), Mexico and Colombia (Bogota) have also implemented such measures.
Let’s glance over some international experiments?
- The city initiated the alternate day car driving restrictions just ahead of the 2008 Olympic Games and saw pollution levels drop by almost 20%.
- Currently, Beijing imposes this rule periodically, on days with high air pollution.
- The city has also restricted its car sales since 2011 to 20,000 car plates every month.
- However, they have made tremendous efforts to increase public transport such as bus connectivity and metro services. [ Lesson for Delhi ]
- The city has been imposing the odd-even number plate rule during periods of high air pollution. On such days, public transport is free.
- The rule was last implemented in March 2015 when a smog alert was issued.
- The “Hoy No Circula” was introduced in Mexico around 1989 to combat air pollution.
- It called for citywide bans, one day per week, based on last digit of the number plates.
- For example, plates ending in 5 and 6 were not allowed to drive on Mondays while 7 and 8 were not allowed to drive on Tuesdays and so on.
- This measure was highly successful in bringing carbon monoxide (CO) levels down by almost 11%.
- However, in the long run, people eventually started buying more cars, rendering the ban inefficient. Therefore, it actually ended in a rise in CO levels in the long run by almost 13%.
Oh! Are these measures short-term?
- Yes, these examples show that the system has better potential as a short-term measure.
- It show that temporary restrictions on vehicles may not reduce air pollution in the long term.
- Drivers inevitably buy more cheap and inefficient cars with different number plates to get around the rules.
- Hence, such an initiative must be complemented by other measures to ensure that we have a stable system in the long run.
So, Are there any long-term measures available?
Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has suggested some long-term measures –
- There is a need to impose restrictions on diesel vehicles to promote electric and alternative fuel vehicles.
- The electric vehicles should be exempted from any such alternate number plate restriction.
- The number plate measure needs to be combined with high parking charges and intensified public transport strategy. <This should be the strategy for the entire period of poor air quality as well as a long-term measure>
- Paris has set an example by deciding to phase out diesel cars completely by 2020.
- London is also planning to ban diesel cars despite having a fuel quality as high as Euro 6.
- China has already banned diesel cars on roads.India, on the other hand, is still juggling between BS-III and BS-IV norms. <With accepted ground reality, we can not directly implement BS-V/BS-VI in one go>
What Delhi can do more?
Immediately link and scale up metro, bus, autos, taxis-walk and cycle –
- This is needed immediately to connect doorsteps of people with their destinations for effortless movement without the car.
- Connect each and every neighbourhood with efficient and reliable public transport service.
Provide safe and barrier free walking and cycling infrastructure –
- Redesign roads and road network to give safe and priority infrastructure to walkers, cyclists and public transport users.
Adopt parking policy and taxation measures to restrain car usage –
- Currently, parking charges in Delhi are one of the lowest in the world.
- Limit legal parking areas across the city and demarcate them on the ground. Impose high penalty for illegal parking on public space.
- Impose higher taxes on cars for their congestion and pollution impacts. Use the revenue to build public transport.<Congestion tax can be a good case in this regard>
How will it affect automobile industry sector?
- Delhi’s odd-even decision will upset powerful automobile lobbies.
- The stakes for the car industry are too high in the capital, which is India’s biggest car market.
- The city has the largest population of registered motorised vehicles in the country, about 89 lakh as on March 31, 2015.
- Of them, 26 lakh are cars, 28 lakh motorcycles and 27 lakh scooters.
- In comparison, the number of commercial vehicles like taxis, buses and three-wheelers is about 3.5 lakh.
- The national capital region (NCR) accounts for 12% of car sales in India and is the biggest car market in the country.
- The temporary ban, according to reported estimates, will prevent 12,000 new diesel cars from coming on the Delhi roads.
So, the Odd-Even vehicle formula restriction is a good initiative, it is only a start. To control congestion, reduce pollution and improve liveability, there must be a comprehensive strategy in Delhi.
At national level, how odd-even policy will affect Make in India programme? Critically analyse.
Published with inputs from Arun