Dear Readers,

The Odd-Even
Rule of Delhi Government has recently been in the news and could be important
for your exams.

The Chief
Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal implemented this peculiar scheme. This rule
has two-fold objectives: (i) to curb rising pollution levels in the capital,
and (ii) to de-congest the roads of the city. The government has called it a
“road space rationing” technique because it will ease the road transportation. In
this article, we will look at the background, the implementation and major
criticism of the scheme.

Background – Pollution Levels in Delhi

In a study released in 2014 by
the World Health Organisation (WHO), Delhi was named the most polluted city in
the world. This report of the Ambient Air Pollution (AAP) covered almost 1600
cities in 91 countries.

Air quality is represented by
annual mean concentration of fine Particular Matter, PM10 and PM 2.5, i.e.
particles smaller than 10 or 2.5 microns respectively.

The permissible limits, as per
WHO, are – PM2.5: 10 microgram (annual mean) and 25 microgram (24-hour mean)
and PM10: 20 microgram (annual mean) and 50 microgram (24-hour mean).

For India, PM2.5 and PM10
levels are set at 60 (24-hour) and 100 (24-hour) by National Ambient Air
Quality Standard.

This study covered the period
from 2008 to 2015. During the time of this report, the PM2.5 and PM10
concentrations in Delhi were 153 micrograms and 286 micrograms respectively,
which were much more than permissible limits.

On 23 December 2015, the
pollution levels in Delhi touched a new high. According to the System of Air
Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), the PM2.5 level was 295
micrograms and PM10 level was 470 microgram.  

What Exactly is the Odd-Even Rule?

Following these alarming figures,
Chief Minister Kejriwal announced the blueprint of the Odd-Even plan which aims
to curb the rising air pollution.

The scheme looks at encouraging
the usage of public transports, thereby easing traffic on roads and cutting
down the number of private four-wheelers on the roads.

According to this plan, cars
with number plates ending in odd numbers can only be driven on odd dates.
Similarly, number plates ending in even numbers can be driven only on even

This rule will be applicable
from Monday to Saturday from 8 AM to 8 PM. In case of a violation, a penalty of
₹2,000 will be applicable.

There are 25 categories of
exemption. Some are – two-wheelers, vehicles with women drivers carrying only
women or children below the age of 12 years, VIPs, paramilitary, emergency
vehicles like fire brigade and ambulance, etc., CNG and electric vehicles.

The Chief Minister himself and
the state Cabinet have not been
exempted from this scheme.

 Right now, the rule is in its trial period
(1-15 January 2016). Once this period is over, the state government will assess
the impact and future plans. A big objective is to analyse the effect of this
scheme on air pollution levels in various parts of the city.

To ensure smooth conveyance, additional
3,000 buses have been deployed and the metro service has added around 70 more


De-congestion of roads has
boosted the idea of carpooling among the working populations. Jam-packed areas
like ITO have become smoother in terms of traffic.

This is the first time in India
that a state government has done something like this. Never before has
pollution been taken so seriously. The way Delhi residents have showed their
support has been commended by many.

Now that the government knows
that people are willing to contribute towards making the air more breathable,
better and more effective plans can be devised to counter the pollution

Taking inspiration from the
Delhi government, other states will also review the pollution levels and more
dialogue will take place to ensure that the air is cleaner.

Freer roads have made sure that
emergency services like fire brigades and ambulances reach their destinations
conveniently and in time.

CRITICISM – Against the Plan

A large amount of criticism has
been targeted at the policy of exempting two-wheelers. According to the
records, Delhi has around 55 lakh two-wheelers and 27 lakh four-wheelers
registered. A senior government official said that this is because the
administration does not have the capacity to provide any viable alternatives as
of now.

Another major issue faced by
the working masses of Delhi is the hassle caused by overcrowded public
transports. Residents of several NCR areas (like Noida and Ghaziabad) which do
not have extensive metro connectivity have to suffer despite owning vehicles of
their own. On days when their vehicles cannot be driven, it can take up to 1.5
hours by public transports for their one-way commute.

Smog levels have certainly
lowered but the same cannot be said about the pollution level.

Despite the goal behind this
scheme being reducing pollution levels, there has been little improvement. The
PM2.5 levels fell to 121 on January 9, but this was largely due to weather
conditions, according to SAFAR.

The government has faced flak for
wasting police teams towards this purpose when crime rates in the city need
more attention.

This will lead to people buying
more vehicles so that they can have both odd and even plates, and the pollution
level will rise again – only this time the number of vehicles will also mount.

Some critics have said that
this scheme cannot be used in the long run. Instead, the government should
focus on strengthening public transportation and last-mile connectivity.

These are some
of the major points to be remembered about the Odd-Even Rule. If you can
understand these well, you can attempt questions pertaining to it with greater

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