As the Bhagavad Gita states that do your duty and don’t worry about the outcome. With regard to the implementation of the Odd-Even rule, the naysayers have approached the implementation of the Odd-Even rule from an outcome-based perspective. However, apart from solely focusing on pollution-based results, there is a need to understand the other outcomes of the implementation of the Odd-Even rule from more awareness amongst citizens of transport options to a basic understanding of what pollution entails.

Consumer behaviors towards Odd-Even rule:

The rates of compliance by citizens across the NCR have shown that with dedication, there are always results, even if they are unexpected in nature. While, it is not logical for the pollution levels to see major reductions during the Odd-Even rule’s implementation, there has been improvement in the commute times as traffic flow has eased. For example, ease in traffic flow conditions are seen along the respective exits of National Highway 8, which often cause gridlock conditions on the Highway itself.

With the improvement in traffic flow conditions, note the impact to the low carbon lifestyle as a result of fewer cars running with ignition engines switched on that are also known to contribute to air emissions. The first phase of the trial run of the odd-even rule should be seen in the light of the big picture. Instead of only thinking about the reduction in air pollution as the only benefit of the Odd-Even rule, consider the Odd-Even rule trial run as a way to make city life easier in terms of access to transportation and commuting options. In a year following the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations, there is a need to uphold the spirit of the Sustainable Development Agenda by understanding that the spirit is not only the social, economic and environmental spheres but instead there is a need to consider the impact and effect upon the individual’s lifestyle as well. Furthermore, in a time period following on the heels of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP) conference which was held in Paris last year, the trial run of the Odd-Even rule can be analyzed through the lens of the Nationally Determined Contributions that India had finalized upon prior to the COP held in Paris.

The success of the Odd-Even rule as it got a lot of people thinking about transport-related issues, ranging from company policies on car pool to last-mile connectivity. There is a lot of emphasis on importance of getting from Point A to Point B with ease. Those concerned with price are realizing that many of the alternatives are in fact more reasonably priced compared to running one’s own private vehicle such as the alternative of the service that cab companies offer. The ultimate verdict on the Odd-Even rule will depend on formal quantitative analysis of emission figures.

Apart from individual citizens re-thinking their daily transportation options, the satellite city of Noida also is re-thinking the number of transportation options available to citizens in light of issues related to last-mile connectivity. In fact, the UP government plans to start a bus service in NCR soon, which will ply on the travel routes of NCR autos. Such a development has been planned since last year with the opening of financial bids to operate the buses being on July 30, 2015. Therefore, in Uttar Pradesh, the outcome of the Odd-Even rule is to cause high level stakeholders to actively think about how to increase access of transport to citizens and issues relating to last-mile connectivity as currently, people from Greater Noida are unable to easily access the location of the Metro.

In terms of the alternatives that were resorted to during the implementation of the Odd-Even rule, it should be noted that buses were not actively sought as bus ridership levels were low and if they are taken into consideration as evidence of not being the preferred substitute of a mode of transport. In fact, many buses ran empty, even during peak hours. People also used the metro as a means of transport during the implementation of the Odd-Even rule. However, the cab companies who benefited the most from the implementation of the odd even rule as they were able to schedule more fare-based rides in the less congested conditions on the roads and provided service to many who only owned one car.

Scientific Implications of the Odd-Even Rule:

It is known that there two kinds of particulate matter: PM 2.5 and PM 10 and each kind of particulate matter is measured in microns. There is also another measurement that is significant for understanding pollution, which is the Air Quality Index (AQI). All readings during the analysis period at the end of the trial run of the Odd-Even Rule would be useful towards understanding of air pollution levels in the NCR. According to the World Health Organization (2014), the annual concentrations for PM 2.5 and PM 10 have been over target with the weighted concentrations for PM 2.5 and PM 10 have been significantly over target.

Despite the diversity in the measurements of the Air Quality Index (AQI) from the multiple stakeholder agencies that are involved in measurement, namely, Central Pollution Control Board, System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research in association with the Ministry of Earth Science, Govt. of India and the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune and finally, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee, readings of pollution must also keep in mind the weather conditions during the trial run of the Odd-Even Rule. In fact, keeping in mind that the analysis could possibly be limited as during winters, the weather pattern makes it difficult for pollutants to disperse and therefore the accumulated particulate matter continues to hover in the atmosphere. Furthermore, there are many other sources of pollution originate across from other states, such as Haryana, where burning of paddy stubbles is carried out. Therefore, improvement in pollution levels in a fortnight is wishful thinking. However, what must be considered via the compliance of the citizens of the NCR in relation to the Odd-Even rule are the open-mindedness and the willingness to change their methods of transportation in order to adapt to the rule. It should be noted that there are many other perspectives to understand air pollution apart from measurements of PM and AQI. For example, as a result of the improvement in traffic conditions, each individual citizen’s time of being exposed to particulate matter and emissions in general has reduced.

What is next for the Odd-Even rule?

As the first phase of the trial run of the Odd-Even Rule gets wrapped up and enters into the stage of analysis, some recommendations should be kept in mind. As the analysis stage gets underway, there is a need to involve a wide stakeholder base, which should be allowed to give feedback on the trial run. Furthermore, there is a need for stakeholders involved in the transport sector to work collectively to understand that like on a road; bottlenecks can be foreseen in advance, keeping in mind VIP movements and peak hour, for example. However, when transport as issue is linked to lifestyle, in the context of the daily commute and has implications on health. It is hoped that a precedent has been set by the citizen of the NCR, with regard to the open-mindedness and willingness to adapt to the trial run of the Odd-Even rule. As a result, future-oriented changes to transport guidelines in the NCR should keep in mind the support of the citizens.