Traffic reduced, but pollution…

The odd-even experiment in Delhi has left the taxi owners very happy. Eligible private cars too have been happy, as both driving time and stress were significantly down. But pollution, the real reason for this cameo, has remained the same. Why

Five reasons, mostly obvious.

  1. Reserve force. A popular grocery store in Malviya Nagar market is run efficiently by a single man in later thirties. But
    Old Zen emits 5 times more toxic pollutants than new Euro 3 cars
    Old Zen emits 5 times more toxic pollutants than new Euro 3 cars

    when we happened to visit the store two days before Diwali, we found a number of other family members helping him, including his wife, and his mom and dad in their late seventies. “Reserve power at work,” I quipped to my wife, as both of us laughed at my joke. This is exactly what Delhites did. They pulled all their old, gas-guzzling, CO spewing cars out to work around the inconvenience. Despite 20-30% less private cars on road, the older cars more than made up for the newer ones when it came to pollution. A 7+ year car pollutes up to 5 times more than newer, Euro 3 version.

  2. The less rich have a back-up too. While the richer guys pulled out their old cars, the less rich used bikes and scooters on days they couldn’t take their cars out. While this reduced congestion, it added to the pollution.
  3. Extra trips. Many of those who couldn’t afford the second car, made their cars make extra trips – dropping everyone. More trips, or more pollution per car.
  4. Achhe Din for cabbies, autos. The cabbies and auto rickshaws did more trips, driving more and raking in more. Though many people left their cars home to comply with the rule, they carried the same level of pollutions as they simply replaced own car with a cab or auto.
  5. Arithmetic wins. Cars account for 10% of the pollution. If 30% were off the road, it should lead to 30% drop in pollution. Even if it did, the final impact would be barely 3% – 30% of 10% is 3%. Too much ado about too little.

Yet ,odd-even has been a big success on two counts.

It has demonstrated that people will comply. I think almost everybody did.

And during the 15 days it was operational, pollution was more popular than Dhoni, Kohli, Shahrukh, Deepika, Salman, Amitabh and Amir combined – it’s a topic none in Delhi could resist talking about. Just the right ‘voice-balls’ a serious problem deserves.


We done Delhi! Well done Mr. Kejriwal. Well done the High Court and the Supreme Court.


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