NEW DELHI: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today claimed that the odd-even scheme reduced pollution by at least 15 per cent in January but a green body termed it "wrong" saying the car-rationing experiment only helped manage peak levels of pollution.
Commenting on media reports that pollution has gone up despite the enforcement of the scheme, Kejriwal mockingly said that he is "confused" as to how pollution "went up" despite 30 to 40 per cent cars going off the roads.
"Even petrol pump owners are saying that they will go on strike as their sales have come down," he said.
The CM said that there are several studies on the impact of the first phase of odd-even but "even at the worst people are admitting that the reduction of pollution was around 15 per cent and it is worth it."
"And people strongly demanded that we bring it back, and its reason was not pollution but congestion. Congestion had come down considerably where people could reach places within 30-40 minutes. People could drive in peace," he said.
Kejriwal's claim was contested by Centre for Science and Environment Director General Sunita Narain during an event 'Our Right to Clean Air' here. She said the curbs on vehicles can only be an emergency measure and not a permanent one.
Explaining that the "tough" geographical conditions of Delhi and wind play a major role in determining pollution levels, Narain said "more than what the CM can do, god can do."
Making her intervention, Narain said that it would be technically wrong to say that pollution came down. "Pollution did not come down. It did not go up as it could have."
"December peak was higher than January peak with the same weather conditions. So, it would be wrong to say technically that pollution had come down. Pollution did not come down but did not go up as much as it could have and that itself is a big thing.
"CSE also believes that odd-even cannot be a permanent solution. It's an emergency action which should be taken when pollution breaches a level. And to make it effective, two-wheelers will have to be included which I understand is difficult at present," she said.
She also urged Kejriwal to shut down coal-based Badarpur power plant which the Delhi Pollution Control Committee has permitted to function.
Kejriwal said the AAP government announced its decision to implement the scheme abruptly, then it would have invited "shoes from the public".
"We engaged them in a dialogue for a month and assured them of a rollback in case of inconvenience. Then people accepted it otherwise it would have failed. The fear of Rs 2,000 penalty will not work in Delhi," he said.