In May 2014, the World Health Organisation declared New Delhi as the most polluted city in the world. Delhi air had PM2.5 concentrations of 153 micrograms and PM10 concentrations of 286 micrograms–much more than the permissible limits. In comparison, Beijing, which was once considered one of the most polluted cities, has PM2.5 concentration of 56 micrograms and PM10 concentration of 121 micro grammes.
Under huge public pressure, public institutions started taking baby steps to fight pollution. First, courts banned all diesel vehicles older than 15 years old. Burning plastic or any other material including tree leaves in the open was also banned. This was rampant before the ban. These measures were too late or too small to bring in any significant change.
In February 2015, Delhi elected a progressive party “AAP”. Founded by anti-corruption crusaders, AAP was led by an engineer from IIT, which are one of best engineering colleges in the world.
In consultation with the public, the new government started working on a plan to fight pollution head-on. In Janurary 2016, they rolled out odd-even vehicle rationing scheme for 15 days, to control vehicular pollution. Using innovative public information campaigns, they convinced public that this is a necessary measure. The odd-even scheme was highly debated on Indian Television. But public supported it and it was a huge hit
Gandhian method was used to convince offenders to follow policy. School children gave flowers to offenders and requested them to go back home.
During odd-even scheme, demand for cabs increased. Services like UBER, Ola cabs saw huge demand. Uber “Surge pricing” was seen in action. Delhi govt gave a stern warning to Uber, which rolled back its surge pricing.
Odd-even scheme immediately led to some reduction in pollution.
Government closed two thermal power plants operating within Delhi. Delhi govt chalked out plan to buy electric buses to counter pollution. In a bid to reduce pollution, Delhi government gave go-ahead to app-based shuttle bus operators. Heavy fines were placed against consturction sites to serve as deterrant. Rs. 1 crore in dust pollution fines. Delhi started vacuum cleaning major roads, to restrict dust on road to re-enter atmosphere. Government started a huge exercise in planting trees. Some citizen organizations started a Plant ambulance to save injured plants
Green tax: 20% dip in trucks entering Delhi.
WHO clears air: Delhi no longer most polluted. Delhi is now the 11th most polluted city in the world, based on average annual PM 2.5 readings of 3,000 cities in 100 countries, according to the WHO’s latest urban air quality database for 2016.