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Rajiv Kakria’s letter to Delhi CM on odd even formula and curbing pollution

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Mr Rajiv Kakria is a well know civic activist. In this letter to Delhi Chief Minister Mr Arvind Kejriwal, he takes a holistic look at the odd even formula and how to- at the same time- not ignore the other causative factors that result in pollution.

February 6, 2016

Dear Mr Kejriwal,

When Columbus set out in search of India, he ended up discovering America. ODD / EVEN challenge too has ended up discovering additional benefits.

While curbing pollution was the stated purpose of the ODD / EVEN Formula, many more benefits have accrued. App Based Pooling of Cars and Taxies will lead to 30% to 70% household savings on fuel. Less congestion on roads will surely lead to many Health benefits.

There are calls for extending the experiment and look to make it permanent. I too believe that the GOOD HABITS CULTIVATED during the fortnight long experiment should not be wasted and the Odd / Even Formula should be implemented periodically.

The success of the Program should not be taken for Granted: We need to analyze what REALLY MADE IT SUCCESSFUL? 

  1. CLOSURE OF SCHOOLS – Private Cars ferrying children to schools were off the roads, as were the teachers driving to work. The additional buses added to the Fleet for Public were School Buses.
  2. EXEMPTIONS TO TWO-WHEELERS AND WOMEN – The Public Transport would not have been able to take the additional load nor does the Police evoke confidence of security to women.
  3. PUBLIC SUPPORT – Citizens were willing to support as they realise the gravity of the problem and knew the inconvenience was for a short spell of 15 days, effectively 6-7 days.
  4. CIVIL DEFENCE VOLUNTEERS AND CHILDREN – The Government Machinery is woefully inadequate and the efforts of volunteers must be applauded but cannot be relied in the long term.
  5. SDM’S AND TRANSPORT OFFICIALS HELPED THE POLICE – The very fact that more fines were imposed by SDMs and not the Police, shows that additional officials on the roads contributed in a big way, which may not be the case on a regular basis, as they have other duties to perform.

The way Forward:  PREPARE A THREE YEAR CIVIC ROADMAP (Short, Medium and Long Term), with clear deadlines with the help of Data Collected and Additional Surveys:-

 SHORT TERM Measures:

  1. DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN DYNAMIC AND DEAD PARKING – Discourage people who use cars for Home-Office-Home travel, turning scarce Parking Space unproductive (Dead) for 8-14 hours. Shoppers and Visitors to offices for meetings etc occupy Parking Space (Dynamic) for a limited period of time and the same space is utilised multiple times, giving a fillip to Business. DEAD PARKING should be discouraged and made prohibitive. DYNAMIC PARKING Rates should be of 15 Minute Pulse, to encourage people to conclude business promptly and save money.
  2. PARKING FEE BASED ON SIZE OF CAR – To encourage the use of small cars Parking Fee should be charged based on length of the car, as one BMW occupies twice as much space as an i10 car.
  3. INTRODUCE POINT TO POINT AC CHARTERED/SHUTTLE BUSSES – Care should be taken that Office goers are not inconvenienced and transport BEFITTING THEIR STATURE be made available at reasonable rates. People use Personal Transport out of compulsion due to lack of COMFORTABLE, SAFE & SURE TRANSPORT.
  4. STOP FLEECING BY AUTO/ TAXIS AND SURGE PRICING BY UBER / OLA: Autos have been notorious for Refusals and Overcharging. Now Uber and Ola are also fleecing hapless commuters, charging 1.5X to 3.9X SURGE PRICING. If citizens can be fined Rs. 2000/- then Service providers should also be penalised for Malpractice. INTRODUCE UNIFORM PRICING.
  5. ENFORCE LANE DISCIPLINE – Traffic Police should be instructed to enforce Lane Discipline and man Traffic Lights instead of hiding behind trees to net offenders and pocket bribes.
  6. REMOVE BOTTLE NECKS ON ROADS – Potholes; Encroachments/Vendors; Parking on Roads; Religious Places; Trees; Defunct Poles etc. create congestion and slows the traffic.

MEDIUM TERM Measures:

  1. CREATE HALTING ZONES FOR AUTOS, GRAMIN SEVAS, TAXIS ETC Traffic Jams are often noticed near Bus Stops/Metro Stations, Traffic Signals, Market/Hospital Entrances, Street Corners etc as these modes of transport bunch up at such spots usurping one or more lanes.
  2. IMPROVE LAST MILE CONNECTIVITY  – This proposal has been in the Pipeline for so long that it seems like a Pipedream, surely it is not as difficult as it seems.
  3. PUT THE PUBLIC TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE IN PLACE – Multiple modes of Public Transport adhering to a strict timetable be introduced in consultation with experts.
  4. CREATE SUBWAYS AND PEDESTRIAN CROSSINGS Lack of pedestrian facilities make the roads dangerous and are the cause for traffic snarls, when people give up private transport there will be a manifold increase in Pedestrian Traffic, so this aspect MUST GET PRIORITY.
  5. INSTALL NUMBER PLATE READING CCTVS – E-Chalaan traffic offenders and Trucks who enter the city before Entry Hours (which is Rampant).

 LONG TERM Measures:

  1. IMPROVE ROAD ENGINEERING AND POSITIONING OF BUS STOPS – Go anywhere in Delhi, most traffic jams occur at the start and end of a Flyover, due to merging traffic and positioning of bus stops close to the Flyover.
  2. EXPEDITE COURT CASES FOR ROAD WIDENING Ring Road at Nariana is a good example of what can be achieved by acquiring land for road widening …… there are many such points all over Delhi that are stuck in Court Cases.
  3. BAN PURCHASE OF VEHICLE (PRIVATE OR COMMERCIAL) WITHOUT PROOF OF PARKING SPACE Introduce differential Fee Structure for parking on Public Land with a percentage increase for 2nd, 3rd, 4th Vehicle Registered per Dwelling Unit instead of per family member. THE RECENT HIGH COURT RULING RESTRICTING ONE PARKING SLOT PER DWELLING UNIT IS WORTH EMULATING FOR EQUITABLE USE OF PUBLIC SPACES. Fleet owners should create own Parking Zones instead of using up public spaces.
  4. INTRODUCE FIRST CLASS COMPARTMENTS ON METRO – Airlines, Trains, Busses, Mumbai Suburban all have 1st Class compartments.

I have restricted my suggestions to Road Congestion Solutions. Once the Short and Medium Term targets are met, then the exemptions given to Women and Two Wheelers can be withdrawn. Till then ODD / EVEN Formula should be imposed during school vacations or every alternate month for one week, to keep the momentum going.

I congratulate you on the success of the first experiment and for constantly being open to suggestions. Finally, pollution too will be curbed through collective effort and going after THE REAL POLLUTERS, ie, Dust, Trucks, Generators, Waste Burning, etc.

Warm Regards,

Rajiv Kakria

New Delhi

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Diesel Exhaust Converted Into Ink by Indian Innovators To Battle Air Pollution

Supervised by young engineers, workers at the start-up company Chakr Innovation in New Delhi cut and weld sheets of metal to make devices that will capture black plumes of smoke from diesel generators and convert it into ink.

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representational image. VOA

Supervised by young engineers, workers at the start-up company Chakr Innovation in New Delhi cut and weld sheets of metal to make devices that will capture black plumes of smoke from diesel generators and convert it into ink.

In a cabin, young engineers pore over drawings and hunch over computers as they explore more applications of the technology that they hope will aid progress in cleaning up the Indian capital’s toxic air – among the world’s dirtiest.

While the millions of cars that ply Delhi’s streets are usually blamed for the city’s deadly air pollution, another big culprit is the massive diesel generators used by industries and buildings to light up homes and offices during outages when power from the grid switches off – a frequent occurrence in summer. Installed in backyards and basements, they stay away from the public eye.

“Although vehicular emissions are the show stoppers, they are the ones which get the media attention, the silent polluters are the diesel generators,” says Arpit Dhupar, one of the three engineers who co-founded the start up.

The idea that this polluting smoke needs attention struck Dhupar three years ago as he sipped a glass of sugarcane juice at a roadside vendor and saw a wall blackened with the fumes of a diesel generator he was using.

It jolted him into joining with two others who co-founded the start-up to find a solution. Dhupar had experienced first hand the deadly impact of this pollution as he developed respiratory problems growing up in Delhi.

An Indian girls holds a banner during a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Nov. 6, 2016.
An Indian girls holds a banner during a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Nov. 6, 2016.

A new business

As the city’s dirty air becomes a serious health hazard for many citizens, it has turned into both a calling and a business opportunity for entrepreneurs looking at ways to improve air quality.

According to estimates, vehicles contribute 22 percent of the deadly PM 2.5 emissions in Delhi, while the share of diesel generators is about 15 percent. These emissions settle deep into the lungs, causing a host of respiratory problems.

After over two years of research and development, Chakr has begun selling devices to tap the diesel exhaust. They have been installed in 50 places, include public sector and private companies.

The technology involves cooling the exhaust in a “heat exchanger” where the tiny soot particles come together. These are then funneled into another chamber that captures 70 to 90 percent of the particulate matter. The carbon is isolated and converted into ink.

Among their first clients was one of the city’s top law firms, Jyoti Sagar Associates, which is housed in a building in Delhi’s business hub Gurgaon.

Making a contribution to minimizing the carbon footprint is a subject that is close to Sagar’s heart – his 32-year-old daughter has long suffered from the harmful effects of Delhi’s toxic air.

Motorists drive surrounded by smog, in New Delhi, India, Nov. 8, 2017.
Motorists drive surrounded by smog, in New Delhi, India, Nov. 8, 2017.

“This appealed to us straightaway, the technology is very impactful but is beautifully simple,” says Sagar. Since it could be retrofitted, it did not disrupt the day-to-day activities at the buzzing office. “Let’s be responsible. Let’s at least not leave behind a larger footprint of carbon. And if we can afford to control it, why not, it’s good for all,” he says.

At Chakr Innovation, cups, diaries and paper bags printed with the ink made from the exhaust serve as constant reminders of the amount of carbon emissions that would have escaped into the atmosphere.

There has been a lot of focus on improving Delhi’s air by reducing vehicular pollution and making more stringent norms for manufacturers, but the same has not happened for diesel generators. Although there are efforts to penalize businesses that dirty the atmosphere, this often prompts them to find ways to get around the norms.

Also Read: Exposure to Traffic-Related Pollution Poses Threat of Asthma in Kids

Tushar Mathur who joined the start up after working for ten years in the corporate sector feels converting smoke into ink is a viable solution. “Here is a technology which is completely sustainable, a win-win between businesses and environment,” says Mathur. (VOA)