No it’s not a solution. Odd-even is not a solution for a simple reason that Paracetamol is not a medicine for cancer.
Here we are talking about problems which are highly related urban transport and city air pollution. Cars are not the biggest polluter in the cities, but if taken per capita, they are and if you consider per capita space taken on road (and road side parking), cars will come at top and these are major reasons for traffic congestion which leads to more emission and more pollution from other vehicles too. So we should try for removing as many cars from road as possible. But how that is the point which should be debated.
1. Rule number one for any city is to transport as many people as possible with as less emission as possible and this can be done in three ways - a) walk b) ride a cycle c) use public transport.
a) Walking – whether you are walking to office (not possible in any big or medium scale city) or to a point of public transport, first issue which will come to your mind is how safe is it? And it is unsafe to be a walker in most of the cities. You may be robbed, or thrown away by a bull, a pack of street dogs with their sharp teeth are ready to bite you at every corner; and crossing a road is nightmare, either you will not have a zebra crossing or no one in their cars are going to respect a mere mortal like a pedestrian. So removing stray animals from road is difficult, making zebra crossing and signal system for pedestrian to cross is difficult and it requires surgical efforts, easy thing is to go for paracetamol.
b) Cycles – This is where future is, go to Europe and see how much precedence cyclist get over other mode of transport (second to pedestrian). They have dedicated lanes, 10 feet is reserved for them in front at signals, they have right to use roads above motor driven vehicles.
c) Public Transport – It requires buying buses, running those for larger number of hours, connecting the areas which are not connected and increasing the frequency of metro. Again all this requires money and will power which is normally absent in our political system always.
What other things we require to handle pollution which is happening because of urban transport.
2. Lane driving – Really! Most of the people in national capital probably never even heard of it, and that’s why people prefer to use car rather than cycle or two-wheeler. And this problem is even in Imphal too. They are widening the road at the level of madness with no concern about how to ensure safety for pedestrian or riders. Everyone loves one’s life and prefer car if they can afford.
3. And now let’s come back to where we started, i.e. why odd-even is not a solution? Because it affects people at large for no reason. Cars are still costly and their fuel too. Those who are rich affords it easily (and they mostly have more than one car in family, so wouldn’t be affected much anyway), but for many use of car has a lot to with the points mentioned earlier. Alternatives for not using car are in pathetic stage. Use of public transport goes like that – Make sure no bull throws you away while you walk to nearest point of public transport, then because government has invested less in that (remember same government spending money on widening roads, so what they are lacking is not money, but something else), riding a public transport system is like getting shipped in a factory assembly line and then this process continues while returning and if its dark you will need to walk through social criminals and dogs too. Riding cycle or bike is not safe on roads in a country where traffic rules are far books only.
So people use cars, for safety, for comfort and for need too. And odd even system does not address any of these. It neither makes you feel safe nor makes you comfortable and worst it affect you when you need it. How would you go to a doctor for an illness if you get sick on a wrong day? You want to go out for a weekend trip to Jaipur and it turns out that you are not even with the scheme. You parents may be coming to railway station from your native place and it is again a wrong day. How to deal with these situations? With a fine of Rs. 2000, not a solution at all. If some needs to go to Delhi to spend his time with his friends from Noida, he is not going to buy a new car.
People should be discouraged to use car by making private cost of it to increase it to social cost. High parking rates would also discourage people from taking out their car and if it reduces the number of cars by 20-30%, that would be better than odd-even without affecting any needy one. Reducing advantages of cars over other modes are more important and it should be done by making other modes better, not making car ownership a crime. Removal of stray animals from road, strict imposition of traffic rules will make roads safe for pedestrian and cyclists. Improving public transport is a must. Copenhagen may be called cycle capital of world and there people don’t use it because they are environmentally more concerned than us or they hate cares, but because their cycle system and its integration with public transport is so good that people prefer it over cars. And when they need to go by car, they don’t do 5th class mathematics of odd-even. Solve cancer with surgery, not paracetamol.