Delhi Pollution Before and After Odd-Even – Bird’s Eye View

I was in Delhi in 2nd week of Dec’15. Every one was talking about pollution. And I was in plane trying to look at beautiful Delhi. But I could not. It was all grey. Delhi has varied features: high rise, tree pockets, congested roads. But on that day it was united in one color which is grey. This is not first time I am coming to Delhi and usually we do see such scenarios but I imagined of heavy fog. But at back of mind a thought came: would it be that much pollution?

I landed on time but no sun on ground. Clarity was there but you could see hazy air. I stayed in Delhi for around a week. Everyday morning I could see the foggy looking pollution. I decided to do some study and looked at the current level of pollution and WHO guidelines. Delhi was living on the edge!!! Absolutely highest level of hazardous conditions as per WHO guidelines. I came back and we decided to track it. The ODD-EVEN driving rationing was in talks and we were worried if it could be implemented well.

Towards end of December’15 the pollution level from PM2.5 and PM10 dropped due to vacations which was good news. We were happy that if vehicles reduced on road, it does reduce pollution and were hopeful. And then 1st January’16 came but PM levels soared like crazy. At heart I really felt bad because we had high hope that pollution does reduce by ODD-EVEN rationing. If it fails our spirit fails to reduce cars on road. If it fails we fail by principal that we cannot unite against a menace. It went on to stay that week.

Then I happened to travel to Delhi again next week. This time unlike last time, I could see Delhi land from flight. I landed and I could see sun!!!! I was happy that what if data is not showing improvement I see difference on ground. I saw much cleaner air. When I shared this with my friends, they said it is psychological. Still I was happy thinking if same is felt by many, then we have won. And then number started trickling in. The pollution levels had come down as if it were vacations. I was happy.

I interviewed few drivers in Taxi and they were saying that not just pollution, it has become much easier for them travel and spend less time in traffic. I spoke to some friends and they echoed the same sentiment. The pollution will come down not just because of lesser vehicles on road but also the on-road-vehicles are not spending lesser time on road and hence lesser pollution.

Is not this win of us the people of India? For first time felt proud that even though it is lot of inconvenience we got united to make it work!!! We can also do it. I felt that we should continue to use less of car. Forget about ODD-EVEN formula. If we just decide that we will not drive on 2-3 days in a week and use car-pooling or public transport, wont that be good? Of-course a lot more need to be done by policy makers, but for our next generation, if we follow little discipline to reduce pollution, we can make a big difference. Well Done Delhi!!!

Baljit Singh