I finally landed at New Delhi IGI airport after 28 hours of journey by flight from Toronto. It was the beginning of my much awaited vacation. I always look for excuses to go back to India every now and then to see my family and to feel the "desi" instinct. My brother at IGI was waiting for me and we set off for Punjab as soon as we loaded our car with my luggage. I was trying to convince my brother to wait for sometime and let the morning fog go away. He kept giggling every time I asked him to pull the car over to the side of the road. Instead, he kept on with his dangerous driving skills. He could hardly see anything on the road but was driving somehow telling me that we better keep moving on as we had to travel 8 more hours to reach home. I felt more nervous in the car being driven on the road in the National Capital than the 28 hours I had spent in the air. In both the cases, I couldn't see anything outside the window.
odd even out
image source: www.huffingtonpost.in

I finally realized after entering Punjab around noon that the fog which tested my brother's driving skills and my patience wasn't due to cold weather but it was smog which literally polluted Delhi's air so badly and is not going to go away as the sun rises. WHO declared Delhi as the most polluted city in the world in May 2014. If that's not enough to make us worried, the following infographic will definitely do.

Infographic: The World's Most Polluted Cities Are In India | Statista

Mounting population and excessive use of resources lead to the massive amount of pollution in air, water and noise. Our National Capital is home to so many people who thrive or dream to thrive with its resources. Domestic cooking, industrial wastes, transportation and crops residue burnt in north or north-west are some of the causes of the air pollution. A study shows that air pollution in Delhi and some other highly polluted areas cause life expectancy to drop by 3 years.

Delhi government led by Mr. Arvind Kejriwal came out with an odd-even rationing system in which only certain private cars will be allowed on the roads on the alternate days, according to whether the last digit in their licence plate is even or odd.This system was tested for 15 days in Delhi. Exceptions have been given to women drivers and physically disabled people. Anyone else not complying with this rule in Delhi would pay a penalty of Rs. 2000. To encourage more people to use public transport, Delhi government made 3000 extra buses available on Delhi roads.

Let's have a look at the implication of this Odd-Even Traffic Rationing System in effect from January 1, 2016 - January 15, 2016

Infographic showing Particulate Matter (PM) Levels during the beginning of the Odd-Even traffic rationing rule:
Delhi's breath analyzer before odd even rules

Infographic showing Particulate Matter (PM) Levels during the end of the Odd-Even traffic rationing rule:Delhi's breath analyzer during odd even rules

reduction in pm levels in Delhi during odd even rules

source: indianexpress.com

PM levels did drop in different regions of Capital but still we are breathing in an unhealthy air. It caused less congestion on roads and less honking of horns. Less congestion on the roads leads to lesser time to reach at destinations. Lesser time taken to reach destinations means more quality time at home with family.

This odd-even traffic rule had been tried in other cities of the world as well like Mexico, Paris and Beijing to decrease the traffic density and pollution caused by it. It never worked in those cities and eventually this system was taken off the roads.  Even though, doing something is definitely better than nothing to reduce the traffic.

Some of the lessons this Odd-Even system taught us:
  • Discipline
  • Sharing is caring - sharing the car ride while doing carpooling
  • Encouraging the public transport
  • Public participation and willingness
  • Public health safety strictly being enforced
Since the trial period of this odd-even system has ended, it is no longer in effect so far. This system has so far shown that if governments come up with creative ideas to test them with conviction, public never misses an opportunity to support them. Looking forward to Mr. Kejriwal and his team's next move!