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Odd-Even 2.0: Five suggestions Arvind Kejriwal needs to seriously consider

Salma Rehman | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 5:38 IST

Riding on the success of Odd-Even formula to curb vehicular pollution in Delhi, the Arvind Kejriwal-led government will announce the comeback of the scheme at 4 pm today.

The policy - which was followed religiously even by judiciary and women drivers, both categories that are exempt from the rule - was appreciated across the board for reducing traffic congestion in the capital.

However, not everyone took to the Odd-Even formula with the same ease. This time around, the AAP government decided to rope in public opinion before implementing the second phase of the policy.

On Wednesday, the AAP government compiled a report of the feedback from people on the scheme - which was implemented from 1 January to 15 January. According to reports, Delhiites seem to have voted in favour of the scheme.

According to Change.org, more than three-fourths of Delhi citizens who took part in an online survey conducted from 28 January to 9 February, based on the Delhi government's questionnaire, have voted overwhelmingly in favour of re-introducing the scheme. According to media reports, a significant number of people want the scheme to be made permanent.

The results of the survey - declared on 10 February - show that out of the nearly 13,500 Delhiites who participated in the survey, more than 10,500 wanted the scheme to be back. More than 9,600 people reportedly said they will 'not buy a second car' if the scheme was made permanent.

But here is what the government should consider before implementing the second phase

1) During the first trial of the scheme, much hue and cry was raised against the exemption rules. The Delhi high court also pulled up the AAP government about why two-wheelers and women drivers had been exempted from the scheme.

According to the environmentalists, the fifty-five lakh two-wheelers in the capital emit nearly 32 per cent of air pollutants generated by the transport sector in Delhi. Therefore the government need to take a final call on whether or not these need to be exempted.

2) If the scheme is made permanent then the longer term challenges like people buying a second car will come into play. The government should consider disincentives for car owners and implement control on randomised number plate allocation.

"The government needs to bring in a parking restraint policy defining proper parking spaces. Further there should be well-drafted taxation policies for personal vehicles (where personal vehicles owner pay more tax than public vehicles) and fuels like diesel," opines Anumita Roy Chowdhury, executive director, research and advocacy with the Centre for Science and Environment.

3) Chowdhury also believes that the government should increase enforcement capability and to scale up the integrated transport system - including the metro, bus, autos and taxis. She also stressed on infrastructural space for cycling and pedestrians.

4) The scheme is begging for a public campaign to sensitise people about the issue and to encourage them to opt for eco-friendly commuting alternatives like public transport or carpooling - even after the compulsion to do so is withdrawn.

5) The AAP government would also do well to fix and publicise the timings and days of implemention. Since pollution in winter is visibly problematic, the scheme could be put to rest in summers or implemented accordingly.

"The city requires a proper monitoring system which can predict the pollutant levels over a certain time period. Such reading can therefore be integrated with weather patterns and emergency measures can be taken accordingly," Dr Gufran Beig, project director of SAFAR at IITM.

On a technical note, Beig suggested that the relative contribution of pollutants from sources should be realised and that measures should be taken accordingly.

First published: 11 February 2016, 12:19 IST