The Delhi government’s ambitious plan to regulate vehicular traffic is a welcome step to curb the alarming levels of pollution in the city, but the move will be effective only when there is a check on two-wheelers, diesel-run trucks and buses, experts say.
Two-wheelers in the city make up to two-thirds of the motor vehicles in the city, according to the Delhi Pollution Control Board (DPCB). So, of the 90 lakh vehicles registered in the city, some 60 lakh are two-wheelers.
Besides, over 1,400 vehicles are being added each day to the city’s existing vehicular numbers, says the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
“It will be datewise,” Transport Minister Gopal Rai told the media, days after the government said odd numbered vehicles would ply on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and those with even numbers on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
But experts argue that since two-wheelers are the highest contributors of vehicular pollution, there is a need to keep a tab on scooters and motorcycles as well.
Vikrant Tongad, an environmentalist working with Delhi-based Social Action for Environment and Forest (SAFE), told IANS: “The scooters and motorcycles are the highest contributors of vehicular emissions in the city. There are many private buses and trucks running on diesel. Without checks on all these, the even-odd formula wouldn’t be efficient enough to clear Delhi air.”
According to a study by CSE, two-wheelers make up for 32 percent of the particulate matter pollution in the air, while cars contribute 22 percent, diesel-run trucks 28 percent, and Compressed Natural Gas-run (CNG) buses 4 percent of the city’s air pollution.
“Considering the number of two-wheelers in the city, they are the biggest polluters,” Vivek Chattopadhyay of CSE told IANS, adding that 80 percent of the cars have only single occupancy.
“The situation is getting worse with an increasing number of diesel vehicles. An increase in diesel cars is also increasing lung cancer risk in the city,” the study added.
Environmental activist Akash Vashishtha states: “There is a need to convert the existing diesel-run trucks and buses into CNG. The government should have done something to curb the vehicular explosion long ago. This decision to ration road space comes in very late.”
Vashishtha, who is also a policy analyst at the Society for Protection of Environment and Biodiversity (SPENBIO), said although the traffic regulation was “a much needed” move, it is “not wise to exempt two-wheelers”.
“Considering their high emission levels, there needs to be a review of two-wheelers in the government’s decision. There must also be a regulation to curb single occupancy in cars,” he added.