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Home > Blog > The odd Paris connect

The odd Paris connect


January 6, 2016, 11:31 PM IST Aditi Kapoor in Changing Frames | India | TOI

Fresh from Paris, environment Prakash Javadekar should leave politics aside and be happy with Delhi government’s pilot scheme of allowing odd or even cars on alternate days. It may be a small step to clean up vehicular air pollution but it’s a leap towards reaping the co-benefit of reduced fossil fuel emissions.
Days before the global climate agreement was finalized in Paris, Michel Jarraud, the former World Meteorological Secretary-General, pointed to, among other actions, the need for “citizens to choose public transport over cars…to stop climate change.” Measures to solve air pollution like increased use of public transport, promotion of cleaner fuels and limiting the number of fossil fuel cars on roads on a given day will lead to lower greenhouse gas emissions, the rapid release of which has caused climate change. Climate change is a global problem but its impacts are local – and very real. An oft repeated dictum is to ‘think global act local’ and the odd-even formula is a step in the right direction.
Of course, the scheme will just cause an odd dent on the air pollution in Delhi unless the court keeps pushing the government to deliver more on this front. Apart from solutions like increasing public transport facilities, keeping the clamp on diesel vehicles and addressing non-vehicular emission sources, there is also an urgent need to tackle deeper issues.
Take road space. There is a rethink the world over on the efficiency of bus lanes but additional public road transport definitely requires wider roads. Wider roads also mean vehicles idle less and run more efficiently, thereby spewing less poisonous gasses in the air. So the Delhi government would do well to start a drive to remove encroachments and garbage dumps from roadsides as part of the solution to the air pollution problem. This will also make space for more people to take up cycling, especially over short distances and to the metro station. Include decongestion of sidewalks and it will encourage more people to walk to their destinations.
To take another example, a hidden catalyst for the burgeoning private vehicles lies in the financial provisions that encourage people to buy cars rather than use public transport. Offices give higher travel allowances to car owners compared to those who use auto-rickshaws or buses. Offices arrange for discounted or free parking spaces. The availability of easy office/bank loans to buy cars has led to a situation where it is easier to purchase a car and park it on the road than to change the house to one that comes with parking space.
In other words, cleaning Delhi’s air requires a multi-pronged approach, addressing areas that do not seem to be connected to the problem but are actually part of the push factors. Will the Delhi government take cognizance of this? Or will it wait to be first pushed by the Supreme Court? Widen you scope, elected legislators! Delhi’s children must grow up breathing normal rather than subnormal air.
This is reproduced from http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/changingframes/the-odd-paris-connect/