Photo: PTI
Photo: PTI

Grappling with smog

Pollution in Delhi reached severe levels on 7 Novemberthe first time since 20 October, the day after Diwali

Pollution in Delhi reached “severe" levels on 7 November—the first time since 20 October, the day after Diwali. A Graded Action Plan (GRAP) was introduced in January to lay down the sequence of measures to be taken as pollution levels breach certain thresholds. Levels have hovered around the upper end of the “very poor" category for some weeks, necessitating the implementation of these measures.

But implementation has been patchy—orders on hiking parking fees and increasing the number of buses came only on Tuesday, both of which were supposed have been carried out as soon as air quality hit “very poor". Execution, however, was always going to be a challenge, with at least 16 agencies working to enforce various bits of the plan.

Improving the service quality of public transport is needed to en­courage its adoption. GRAP, for instance, mentions differential pricing of public transport to encourage off-peak travel and reduce crowding, but there has been no sign of action on this front. Meanwhile, unsustainable measures that make for good optics should be avoided; last year’s odd-even scheme is a prime example.