Exempting two-wheelers in odd-even 'propaganda': Expert

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced that he and his ministers and government officers will not be exempted under the scheme.

Days before the odd-even road rationing scheme returns to Delhi, environmental experts on Thursday dubbed the AAP government's decision to exempt two-wheelers under the plan as "election propaganda" and said this would reduce its impact.

The odd-even scheme will be implemented in Delhi from November 4-15 to combat high levels of air pollution during winters. During the 12 days when the scheme will be in force, vehicles will ply alternately on odd and even dates as per their registration numbers.

Two-wheelers, vehicles driven by or carrying women and physically disabled persons, private vehicles ferrying schoolchildren in uniform have been exempted under the scheme.

Emergency, enforcement, defence, paramilitary and embassy vehicles have also been exempted.

Director of earth science and climate change at The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI), Sumit Sharma, said exempting two-wheelers under the scheme was not the right decision as among vehicles, they were the second-biggest contributors to PM 2.5 concentration in winters.

"The government's decision to exempt two-wheelers will reduce the potential impact of the odd-even scheme," he said.

TERI's research showed that in the vehicular category, trucks contribute 29 per cent and two-wheelers 25 per cent to the PM 2.5 concentrations in winters, he added.

Environmental activist and advocate Gaurav Bansal said exempting two-wheelers defeats the purpose of the odd-even scheme.

"If this is the kind of implementation they will do, with so many exemptions, to me it is only election propaganda. Most of the two-wheeler riders are their (AAP's) vote bank which is why they have exempted them," he said.

He said two-wheelers should have been included under the scheme as they don't have air filters and generate a lot of pollution.

"No exemptions should have be made," he added.

No immediate response was available from the Delhi government.

The odd-even scheme will be applicable from 8 am to 8 pm everyday, except on Sundays. It will also be applicable to vehicles entering Delhi from other states.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced that he and his ministers and government officers will also not be exempted under the scheme.

Private CNG vehicles, which were earlier exempted under the plan, have been included this time. Violations of the rule will be punished with a fine of Rs 4,000.

Environmentalist Chandra Bhushan said he was not expecting the scheme to have any major impact due to the exemptions announced by the Delhi government.

"The odd-even scheme is not a silver bullet for air pollution in the national capital. Studies of the previous odd-even (scheme) implementation indicate that the reduction in pollution levels was marginal," he said.

"The impact of the programme is significantly reduced because of the exemptions. Two-wheelers' contribution to air pollution is higher than private cars, yet they have been exempted. So, I am not expecting any significant impact of the scheme in reducing peak pollution levels," he said.

Bhushan claimed Delhi has about 1.1 crore vehicles out of which 70 lakh are two-wheelers.

"You can't exempt 70 per cent of the vehicles and expect a miracle. Even if we assume that vehicles contribute 30 per cent to the total pollution load, cars contribute only about 10 per cent. With half of them exempted, the theoretical impact of the odd-even scheme in reducing pollution is about 5 per cent," he elaborated.

Previously, the odd-even scheme was implemented in Delhi in January and April in 2016.

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