The state government of Delhi is all set to implement a number of radical measures to improve the pollution scenario in the National Capital Region. Come 1 January 2016, private cars with odd and even numbers would be allowed to ply only on alternate days. This means that on days that the odd-numbered cars use the road, the even numbers will not and vice versa. According to the blueprint, violators will have to pay a fine of Rs 2000. The thermal power plants at Badarpur and Rajghat will be closed and the state government will also apply with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to have the one located at Dadri, UP, closed as well.
The Government’s Plans
Starting January, the state government will also not allow trucks to enter the Delhi-NCR area before 10 or 11 p.m. Presently, heavy vehicles are allowed 9 p.m. onwards. The transport department will be continuing thorough checks in order to ensure that the trucks have proper pollution certificates. It will also be implementing Euro-VI rules from 1 January 2017. The Indian Government has given a deadline of 2019 for the same. School buses and extra non-governmental buses will be hired in order to meet the transport-related needs. The state government will also start horticultural work from the very first day of the new year in order to ensure that the open areas have less dust and more greenery. The government will also not allow vehicles to be parked on PWD roads.
Reason for Such Steps
A few days back, the Delhi High Court had come down rather hard on the government, saying that the city had become like a gas chamber. The radical measures were announced on the very next day. So, it can be surmised that it was perhaps the Delhi High Court that got the lawmakers going and bringing about the changes that are being expected to be followed in other states in the days to come.
How will People Travel?
A good majority of people are dependant on personal cars. However, the state government will ask the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) to run more buses at frequent intervals. KK Sharma, the Chief Secretary of Delhi Government, has said that the Metro authorities will be asked to do the same. There are plenty of school buses in Delhi that make only two trips a day. It is expected that these will be pressed into service as well.
- Defence and Embassy Vehicles
- The Chief Justice of India, TS Thakur
- No restriction on Sunday, i.e. vehicles with odd/even number plates would be free to ply on the Delhi roads.
- All CNG-driven vehicles
- Hybrid vehicles
- Electric vehicles
- Vehicles driven by women(should have female passengers or children below the age of 12 only)
- Those on their way to the hospital for a medical emergency
- Vehicles of the physically challenged
- Emergency vehicles – Ambulances, fire department vehicles, prison vehicles, hearses, enforcement vehicles, etc.
- Vehicles of paramilitary forces, Ministry of Defence vehicles, pilot and escort vehicles
- Vehicles of SPG (special protection group) protectees
- Vehicles with diplomatic corps registration plates
- Transport corporation vehicles
Will the number of cars in the city increase ?
This law has sparked off a genuine possibility that people, who are able to, will now buy two cars – one with an even plate and one with an odd plate. Sharma has acknowledged such a possibility saying that it is a risk that has to be taken. He has also pointed out how well China has used this system.
Closure of Thermal Power Plants
The power plants at Rajghat and Badarpur are contributing in a significant way to the pollution in Delhi. This is why it is expected that both the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and the environment department will look to issue orders to close both of them down. It is expected to lead to power shortage in the city, but Sharma has attempted to assuage the worries by saying that substitute arrangements will be made to deal with the situation. This is why the state government will also appeal to the NGT to close down the Dadri thermal power plant.
Crowdsourcing of Pollution Complaints
The government officers have decided that information technology will be used to crowd-source complaints regarding open burning of biomass, leaves, garbage, and the like and vehicles that are openly polluting the city. The Urban Development Department is supposed to improve the Swachh Bharat app, and then use it to receive public complaints, which will then be forwarded to authorities concerned so that they are able to take necessary action.
Vacuum Cleaning of Streets
Dust is a major contributor to the city’s high pollution levels and thus vacuum cleaning of streets is being planned from 1 January 2016. The PWD is expected to start procuring equipment and determining which agencies can be entrusted with the job. The state government is also expected to undertake a huge greening programme on the non-metalled (kutcha) roads in December 2015 itself.
There is no denying that the laws are being put to effect in good spirit and a lot of thought has also been devoted to make sure that the people are not inconvenienced. However, there are still a few things that need to be looked at carefully by the state government. In India, planning is never the problem, but implementation always is. The state government needs to make sure that the alternative arrangements are functioning well otherwise its efforts will become a complete cropper. As has already been pointed out, there is a serious danger that people, who are able to, will buy two cars. The question of forging license plates cannot be ruled out either.
The government will also need to make sure that its alternative arrangements for power are up and running before they close down the aforementioned thermal power plants. It is also important to make sure that these are not polluting the atmosphere in any way like their predecessors. The idea to vacuum clean streets – and the decision to plant trees – is a commendable one as well but the executives will need to make sure that they are careful on the job. Quite often in the US it has been seen that these giant machines have gobbled up stray dogs and even pet dogs. This should not happen.
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