Odd-Even scheme worked but farm and forest fires spoiled the party: CSE investigation


Delhi-based renowned agency Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has released its analysis of air quality data during the second phase of odd and even scheme – from 15 April to April 30.

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The data collected by the CSE showed that the air pollution took a downward dip during the first 10 days of the scheme but registered a sudden spike from April 22 onwards due to farm fires and forest fires.

According to CSE data, the analysis of NASA satellite pictures had exposed massive crop fires in Punjab and Haryana that started around 19 April – which could be the reason behind the rise in pollution levels.

In its report, the CSE said that its investigation was triggered by the ‘widespread media reportage on the findings of India Spend that PM2.5 had increased by 23 per cent and PM10 by 22 per cent compared to the previous fortnight.’

“This was also used by the automobile industry in the Supreme Court hearing on 30 April , 2016 to claim that this shows that vehicles are insignificant contributors to pollution and therefore do not merit stringent action,” the CSE report said.

The CSE investigation has exposed how half-baked and irresponsible explanation of the air quality trend had led to misinterpretation of the benefit of the Delhi government’s car rationing odd-and-even scheme.

This also contributed to helping create the industry myth that vehicles were not the problem.

It said, “India Spend and the industry have failed to catch the reason for the sudden spike in pollution post-April 22. They have missed the massive crop fires that started around April 20 and got intense over time and elevated pollution not only in Delhi, but in other cities of northern India as well.”

What is damaging is that in the absence of clear explanation of the reasons for the pollution spike towards the end of the scheme, this has led to the misleading conclusion that odd-and-even has not made any impact.

You can read the full CSE report here.