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.

We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

The perpetual millennial quest for self-expression just got another boost

Making adulting in the new millennium easier, one step at a time.

Having come of age in the Age of the Internet, millennials had a rocky start to self-expression. Indeed, the internet allowed us to personalise things in unprecedented fashion and we really rose to the occasion. The learning curve to a straightforward email address was a long one, routed through cringeworthy e-mail ids like You know you had one - making a personalised e-mail id was a rite of passage for millennials after all.

Declaring yourself to be cool, a star, a princess or a hunk boy was a given (for how else would the world know?!). Those with eclectic tastes (read: juvenile groupies) would flaunt their artistic preferences with an elitist flair. You could take for granted that and would listen to Bollywood music or read Archie comics only in private. The emo kids, meanwhile, had to learn the hard way that employers probably don’t trust candidates with e-mail ids such as

Created using Imgflip
Created using Imgflip

And with chat rooms, early millennials had found a way to communicate, with...interesting results. The oldest crop of millennials (30+ year olds) learnt to deal with the realities of adolescent life hunched behind anonymous accounts, spewing their teenage hormone-laden angst, passion and idealism to other anonymous accounts. Skater_chick could hide her ineptitude for skating behind a convincing username and a skateboard-peddling red-haired avatar, and you could declare your fantasies of world domination, armed with the assurance that no one would take you seriously.

With the rise of blogging, millennial individualism found a way to express itself to millions of people across the world. The verbosity of ‘intellectual’ millennials even shone through in their blog URLs and names. GirlWhoTravels could now opine on her adventures on the road to those who actually cared about such things. The blogger behind could choose to totally ignore petunias and no one would question why. It’s a tradition still being staunchly upheld on Tumblr. You’re not really a Tumblr(er?) if you haven’t been inspired to test your creative limits while crafting your blog URL. Fantasy literature and anime fandoms to pop-culture fanatics and pizza lovers- it’s where people of all leanings go to let their alter ego thrive.

Created using Imgflip
Created using Imgflip

Then of course social media became the new front of self-expression on the Internet. Back when social media was too much of a millennial thing for anyone to meddle with, avatars and usernames were a window into your personality and fantasies. Suddenly, it was cool to post emo quotes of Meredith Grey on Facebook and update the world on the picturesque breakfast you had (or not). Twitter upped the pressure by limiting expression to 140 characters (now 280-have you heard?) and the brevity translated to the Twitter handles as well. The trend of sarcasm-and-wit-laden handles is still alive well and has only gotten more sophisticated with time. The blogging platform Medium makes the best of Twitter intellect in longform. It’s here that even businesses have cool account names!

Self-expression on the Internet and the millennials’ love for the personalised and customised has indeed seen an interesting trajectory. Most millennial adolescents of yore though are now grownups, navigating an adulting crisis of mammoth proportions. How to wake up in time for classes, how to keep the boss happy, how to keep from going broke every month, how to deal with the new F-word – Finances! Don’t judge, finances can be stressful at the beginning of a career. Forget investments, loans and debts, even matters of simple money transactions are riddled with scary terms like beneficiaries, NEFT, IMPS, RTGS and more. Then there’s the quadruple checking to make sure you input the correct card, IFSC or account number. If this wasn’t stressful enough, there’s the long wait while the cheque is cleared or the fund transfer is credited. Doesn’t it make you wish there was a simpler way to deal with it all? If life could just be like…

Created using Imgflip
Created using Imgflip

Lo and behold, millennial prayers have been heard! Airtel Payments Bank, India’s first, has now integrated UPI on its digital platform, making banking over the phone easier than ever. Airtel Payments Bank UPI, or Unified Payment Interface, allows you to transfer funds and shop and pay bills instantly to anyone any time without the hassles of inputting any bank details – all through a unique Virtual Payment Address. In true millennial fashion, you can even create your own personalised UPI ID or Virtual Payment Address (VPA) with your name or number- like rhea@airtel or 9990011122@airtel. It’s the smartest, easiest and coolest way to pay, frankly, because you’re going to be the first person to actually make instant, costless payments, rather than claiming to do that and making people wait for hours.

To make life even simpler, with the My Airtel app, you can make digital payments both online and offline (using the Scan and Pay feature that uses a UPI QR code). Imagine, no more running to the ATM at the last minute when you accidentally opt for COD or don’t have exact change to pay for a cab or coffee! Opening an account takes less than three minutes and remembering your VPA requires you to literally remember your own name. Get started with a more customised banking experience here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Airtel Payments Bank and not by the Scroll editorial team.