choking cities

Why Delhi’s odd-even scheme is not backed by agencies tasked with recommending, enforcing it

The National Green Tribunal is not sold on the road-rationing plan either.

To tackle severe air pollution in Delhi, the Aam Aadmi Party government has decided to reintroduce last year’s odd-even road rationing scheme for five days starting November 13. But the proposal hit a snag on Friday with the National Green Tribunal asking the government to establish that the scheme is indeed effective. The tribunal is scheduled to rule on the matter on Saturday.

Under the scheme, private vehicles with odd and even registration numbers would ply on alternate days between 8 am and 8 pm. CNG, electric and hybrid cars would be exempt as would those carrying women or children under 12 or in school uniform. The odd-even plan was first enforced in Delhi for the first half of January 2016 and then for the second half of April that year.

The odd-even scheme is included in the Graded Response Action Plan to contain severe pollution in the National Capital Region. However, the Delhi government’s decision to implement the scheme from November 13 did not have the backing of either the central task force supposed to recommend such action or the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority entrusted with enforcing the Action Plan, senior officials said.

On Wednesday, Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal held a meeting with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and other state officials to discuss whether Severe Plus or Emergency category measures under the Graded Response Action Plan needed to be implemented in the city. Such measures were required, it was decided, and, accordingly, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee ordered a ban on all construction activity and entry of trucks into the city except the ones bringing in essential commodities. It also appealed to parents to restrain their children from engaging in outdoor activities as long as severe pollution persisted. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had already ordered all schools to shut down until Sunday after the Indian Medical Association declared the severe pollution a public health emergency.

The Graded Response Action Plan classifies pollution under four broad categories – Moderate to Poor, Very Poor, Severe, Severe Plus or Emergency.

In its order, the Pollution Control Committee also told the Delhi Transport Department to prepare for the odd-even scheme. “However, there were no specifications mentioned about the actual implementation of the scheme this time,” said an official who attended Wednesday’s meeting. “Some scientists present in the meeting speculated that pollution levels would drop down to Very Poor by Monday and any deliberation on odd-even was not on the table as such. It was not necessary because odd-even comes under the Emergency category and the environmental conditions are expected to change by Monday.”

As previously reported, the lethal cocktail of air-borne pollutants that has engulfed much of northern India and Pakistan is likely to clear up over the weekend.

‘A big challenge’

As directed by the Supreme Court, the central government notified the Graded Action Response Plan for the National Capital Region on January 12 this year, and entrusted its enforcement to the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority, a 15-member panel formed by the Supreme Court in 1998 and reconstituted from time to time.

“In the first meeting of EPCA post-January 12, it was decided that provisions pertaining to the Moderate to Poor category of pollution should be enforced immediately and made a round-the-year process,” said Polash Mukherjee, a research associate at the Clean Air and Sustainable Mobility Unit of the Centre for Science and Environment, whose director general, Sunita Narain, is a member of the authority.

The measures for tackling Moderate to Poor category pollution include capping emission from thermal power plants, sprinkling water to settle dust, penalising visibly polluting vehicles, restricting the entry of trucks, and growing grass and plants along dust-exposed roads. “Effective implementation of GRAP provisions requires coordination among multiple agencies not only in Delhi but also Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, which have districts that are part of the National Capital Region,” Mukherjee said, “and that has been a big challenge.”

Coordination is far from the only major problem, said a senior Delhi Public Work Department official who asked not to be identified. For example, many roads in Delhi are not wide enough for growing grass and plants along their sides. “Besides, it takes time for the grass and plants to become visible,” the official said, suggesting it was not a short-term solution anyway.

Odd-even not recommended

To initiate special measures under the Action Plan to tackle Severe category pollution, the Environment Pollution Authority has to alert the central task force, which then takes the final call. The task force met on Thursday but did not recommend any special measures such as the odd-even plan, observing that pollution levels were already coming down. Despite this, the Delhi government announced the road rationing plan.

“The measures suggested under GRAP should not be politicised,” said a senior scientist with the Environment Pollution Authority. “Firstly, implementation has to be scientific. If experts have speculated that pollution levels will drop from Severe to Very Poor, a category that does not require odd-even, it cannot be recommended. Secondly, if such measures are implemented, they should adhere to the standards prescribed by EPCA, which asks for no exemptions to two-wheelers and women drivers.”

Indeed, the exemptions were questioned by the National Green Tribunal too on Friday.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Movies can make you leap beyond what is possible

Movies have the power to inspire us like nothing else.

Why do we love watching movies? The question might be elementary, but one that generates a range of responses. If you had to visualise the world of movies on a spectrum, it would reflect vivid shades of human emotions like inspiration, thrill, fantasy, adventure, love, motivation and empathy - generating a universal appeal bigger than of any other art form.

“I distinctly remember when I first watched Mission Impossible I. The scene where Tom Cruise suspends himself from a ventilator to steal a hard drive is probably the first time I saw special effects, stunts and suspense combined so brilliantly.”  

— Shristi, 30

Beyond the vibe of a movie theatre and the smell of fresh popcorn, there is a deeply personal relationship one creates with films. And with increased access to movies on television channels like &flix, Zee Entertainment’s brand-new English movie channel, we can experience the magic of movies easily, in the comforts of our home.

The channel’s tagline ‘Leap Forth’ is a nod to the exciting and inspiring role that English cinema plays in our lives. Comparable to the pizazz of the movie premieres, the channel launched its logo and tagline through a big reveal on a billboard with Spider-Man in Mumbai, activated by 10,000 tweets from English movies buffs. Their impressive line-up of movies was also shown as part of the launch, enticing fans with new releases such as Spider-Man: Homecoming, Baby Driver, Blade Runner 2049, The Dark Tower, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Life.

“Edgar Wright is my favourite writer and director. I got interested in film-making because of Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the dead. I love his unique style of storytelling, especially in his latest movie Baby Driver.”

— Siddhant, 26

Indeed, movies can inspire us to ‘leap forth’ in our lives. They give us an out-of-this-world experience by showing us fantasy worlds full of magic and wonder, while being relatable through stories of love, kindness and courage. These movies help us escape the sameness of our everyday lives; expanding our imagination and inspiring us in different ways. The movie world is a window to a universe that is full of people’s imaginations and dreams. It’s vast, vivid and populated with space creatures, superheroes, dragons, mutants and artificial intelligence – making us root for the impossible. Speaking of which, the American science fiction blockbuster, Ghost in the Shell will be premiering on the 24th of June at 1:00 P.M. and 9:00 P.M, only on &flix.

“I relate a lot to Peter Parker. I identified with his shy, dorky nature as well as his loyalty towards his friends. With great power, comes great responsibility is a killer line, one that I would remember for life. Of all the superheroes, I will always root for Spiderman”

— Apoorv, 21

There are a whole lot of movies between the ones that leave a lasting impression and ones that take us through an exhilarating two-hour-long ride. This wide range of movies is available on &flix. The channel’s extensive movie library includes over 450 great titles bringing one hit movie premiere every week. To get a taste of the exciting movies available on &flix, watch the video below:


This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of &flix and not by the Scroll editorial team.