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Odd-even scheme can be only an emergency measure: CSE

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New Delhi: The odd-even car-rationing scheme, despite preventing air pollution from getting worse, can be only an “emergency” measure, a green body today said, underlining the need for taking permanent steps to check air pollution in the national capital.

Noting that two-wheelers should also be included in the scheme, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said the first experiment with the scheme in two phases have shown that cutting down vehicle numbers can reduce exposure to toxic pollution and prevents the peaks from getting worse.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal yesterday admitted for the first time that the odd-even scheme cannot be a long-term “remedy” to air pollution.


“Today the air in Delhi is so polluted, action needs to be taken now. Odd-even is an emergency measure. It cannot be brought often or everyday. But when it is brought, it will have an impact on pollution. Data shows, during odd-even pollution levels came down,” CSE Director General Sunita Narain told reporters here.

She said that two-wheelers should also be included in the scheme and no one should get exemption. “Despite so many exemptions, pollution went down to some extent. It is a fact that after April 26 air pollution went up. It was because of crop fires in Punjab and Haryana. We have to understand relation between pollution and weather and then take measures accordingly,” she said.

Holding that it is a big decision by the Centre to leapfrog to Bharat VI standards in 2020, Narain said it will definitely make a difference but that will only come in 2020 and action needs to be taken now given the poor air quality in Delhi.

“Odd-even scheme as an emergency measure has prevented the pollution from getting worse. The first experiment with an emergency measure of odd-even scheme in two phases have shown that cutting down vehicle numbers can reduce exposure to toxic pollution and prevents the peaks from getting worse.

“But emergency action will have to be implemented with permanent measures for sustained gains,” CSE said. The organisation’s analysis on the Delhi government’s second phase of the scheme from April 15 to April 30 had showed that air pollution took a downward dip during the first 10 days of the scheme but registered a sudden spike from April 22 onwards.

Its investigations and analysis of NASA satellite pictures had shown massive crop fires in Punjab and Haryana that started around April 19, which could be the reason behind the rise in pollution levels in the latter part of
implementation of the scheme.