Looking at the current situation of a very high air pollution index in Delhi, the Delhi Government has decided to reinstate the odd-even rule from 13-20 November 2023.
It is not the first time the odd-even rule has been coming into force in Delhi. Earlier, in year 2016, 2017, and 2019, the same rule came into force.
What is the odd-even rule?
Under this rule, vehicles with the number plate of odd numbers (1, 3, 5, 7, 9) will be permitted on roads on odd dates, whereas the even number (0, 2, 4, 6, 8) plates on even dates.
The odd-even rule was first time implemented in Delhi from 1 to 15 January 2016, and the second phase was from 16-30 April 2016. Again, for the second time, the rule was reintroduced in 2017 for a week and then for 12 days in 2019.
Delhities have mixed expressions for this odd-even rule. Even some politicians and celebrities have criticized the rule.
Places which have implemented odd-even rule
Beijing, for the first time just ahead of the 2008 Olympic Games imposed this odd-even system. As per the statistics, 20 percent of pollution dropped in the city. Beijing has also restricted its car sales since 2011 to 20,000 car plates every month. These restrictions on cars have been followed up with efforts to increase public transport, such as bus connectivity and metro services.
Paris in France has also imposed the odd-even rule due to high air pollution. In 2015, it was the last time this rule was imposed. The “Hoy No Circula” commonly known as the odd-even system was introduced in Mexico around 1989 to combat air pollution.
Bogota tried to work on the limitations faced by Mexico and came up with stricter combinations of days and numbers so that the drivers would be unable to circumvent the rules by buying more cars.
The air quality levels in Italy went high, and the air became toxic, cars were banned from the streets of Milan and Rome on Monday, 28th December 2015. Milan and Pavia also imposed an odd-even rule to curb air pollution.
Delhi has become a toxic air chamber. The air is unbearable and may cause breathing problems and watery eyes. Doctors have warned people to stay indoors and avoid morning walks and outdoor games.
According to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR)-India, the current air quality index of Delhi has now touched the last stage of the index to ‘severe plus’ with an AQI exceeding the 500 marks.
Every day, the AQI is rising and making it uncontrollable. Stable burning in Punjab and Haryana is one of the primary causes of air pollution in Delhi. The Delhi government is constantly talking with the governments of these states to work together to improve the air quality index.
Looking at the current scenario, the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) has finally decided to invoke Stage IV of the GRAP in the entire NCR with immediate effect – in addition to all actions under Stages I, II, and III. The time has arrived to invest in electronic vehicles (EVs). Shifting to public transport is beneficial to improve the air quality.
The firecrackers may also contribute to the present time of air pollution post-Diwali celebration. Delhi government has declared holiday for school children from 13 to 20 November except 10 and 12 class. It would be interesting to see if this odd-even rule will be seriously efficient in lowering the air pollution in Delhi.