Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 12.23.16 PM.pngSunita Narain of the Center for Science and Environment  writes about how vehicles (trucks, cars and two-wheelers), and especially diesel-guzzling vehicles are a major contributing source of air pollution and cause of toxic PM 2.5 particles in Delhi.

Ms. Narain explains, “Let’s understand the facts. It is more certain today that two major causes of air pollution in Delhi are road dust and vehicles. The other source of pollution is burning of coal in power stations, industries and biomass for cooking. This is not to say that action is not to be taken against all. This is to say that no plan for air pollution control can succeed without hard steps to restrain the growth of vehicles, particularly the grossly polluting kinds. Road dust generation is also a function of the vehicles because the more we drive the more dust is raised and re-circulated. Worse, the coating of vehicle fumes makes the dust toxic. So, urban road dust is not just dust, but poison.”

The odd-even scheme “has had an impact on Delhi,” she says. “This winter Delhi has seen weather conditions that are horrendous for pollution – still air, high moisture levels which trap particles and winter inversion. It is a fact that in the first week of odd-even, pollution levels increased but this was because weather conditions turned foul. The emergency step of taking half the cars off the road meant that the pollution spike was moderated. This is a big achievement.”

Ms. Nurain believes, “The long-term solution is to make Delhi and its vicinity free of two-wheelers and cars permanently. This can only be possible when we invest in public transport at a scale never done before. Today only 10-15 per cent of Delhi and its neighbourhood drive cars, but this is already the cause of congestion and pollution. This is why odd-even should become our way of life – we share cars; take a bus or metro; cycle or walk. Odd-even should become a way of life.” Business Standard. Read it on

Sunita Narain: Odd-even a way of life