There has been a huge fiasco over the Delhi’s odd-even transport rule where private car owners can bring out their vehicles on alternative days of the week. Many have called the system unimplementable fearing the public transport would not be sufficient enough to handle increased load of travellers. Whether this move will be able to curb down Delhi’s pollution, which is the second highest among all cities in the World, was also debated. But the first day of the rule itself showed measurable difference in Delhi’s air pollution levels.
Both Indian Government’s System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting Research’s (SAFAR) and Delhi Pollution Control Committee’s (DPCC) research data showed pollution levels falling between morning and noon. Anand Vihar area of Delhi where air quality is severe, PM2.5 concentrations dipped from 395 micrograms/m3 to 150 micrograms/m3 by afternoon, a fall of almost 53%.
At the Mandir Marg area of Delhi, another heavily polluted neighbourhood, PM2.5 concentrations fell from 241 micrograms/m3 to 34 micrograms/m3 a fall of 86%. The data looked consistent with the traffic as the PM2.5 concentrations increased in the evening once the load of vehicles on the streets started to increased. The second day of the rule also saw pollution levels decreasing significantly. Also as more members of the community adapt new rule, there were less number of rule violations and traffic issues.
But the pollution experts are not celebrating early. They want to measure and track the data under different weather conditions to ensure this is not a one off case due to different weather conditions and indeed the result of the odd-even rule. According to project director of SAFAR Gufran Beig, “The wind speed was also low so dispersal of pollutants wasn’t happening. We need to compare the levels with days when the temperature and wind speed are similar.”