Odd-even alone not enough to tackle air pollution, says senior AIIMS doctor

New Delhi, Apr 27: The odd-even scheme alone is not enough to tackle air pollution in Delhi and government needs to adopt a multi-pronged strategy, including subsidising electric cars and two wheelers, a senior doctor at AIIMS dealing in respiratory diseases said today.

Speaking at an event ahead of the World Asthma Day on May 3, Dr Randeep Guleria, Head of Respiratory Medicine, AIIMS, said, "Odd even formula alone cannot bring down the pollution levels. It is good as it decreases the number of vehicles and indirectly brings down vehicular pollution. But it will not work in the long term."

Odd-even alone not enough to tackle air pollution, says senior AIIMS doctor

"We need to have other policies and adopt a multi-pronged strategy to deal with the problem. Why can't we subsidise electric cars and two wheelers? They are environment friendly," he said, warning that people would go for another car if odd-even scheme is brought back again and again.

Dr Guleria strongly pitched for improving the quality of cars and fuel and also implementing strict norms for emissions as alternative ways to tackle air pollution.

"It is going to be some time when we will have a robust public transport system. So meanwhile, we should work at improving the quality of cars and the fuel used," he said.

Citing countries in Europe and America, he said that despite having a large number of vehicles, the pollution levels are low "because of strict norms in vehicular emission. They are not permitted to have low quality fuel and engines have to be built in such a way that emission is very low".

"All this may incur high expenditure but ultimately when you balance it out with the health effects, then this cost will not matter in the long term," he said.

Guleria stressed on the need to look at pollution data during the odd even scheme and understand how much pollution is contributed by vehicular traffic.

"According to studies, only around 25-30 per cent of air pollution is contributed by vehicular traffic," he said.

He also suggested improving public transport system, encouraging people to use environment friendly means of travel, car pooling and promoting cycling and making cycle tracks.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr MK Sen, senior chest physician at Safdarjung Hospital, recalled that during the pre-CNG era, respiratory diseases were more but post-CNG, they came down significantly.

"But now again, over the last five years, the cases have gone up because of higher levels of pollution.

"We have lost the benefits of CNG which we had in early 2000. The number of vehicles have increased so much... there was also this shift from petrol to diesel vehicles. The number of vehicles added in Delhi every year is so huge. Delhi has more vehicles than those in Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata combined," he said.


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