Opportunism is neither odd nor even. Neither is inaction

The Delhi government has decided to bring back one of its high-visibility initiative, the odd-even plan.

There is a form of logical fallacy that is specifically called ‘politician’s logic’. It goes like this: “We must do something. This is something. Therefore, we must do this.”

The Delhi government has decided to bring back one of its high-visibility initiative, the odd-even plan. The vehicle rationalisation scheme is now being brought into force as an attempt to control atmospheric pollution that North India is now gasping from.

There seems little doubt in the minds of those running the Delhi government that the smokescreen that is choking the city-state is a result of the stubble burning by farmers in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh.

Apparently, allowing only a half of Delhi’s cars on the streets is a credible way to stop the smoke from stubble burning from drifting in.

Weather patterns are responsible for creating low wind speeds that locked the smoke into a tight spiral flow. This means the smoke is unable to dissipate fast enough from a limited geographical area.

This Meteorological Department expects this weather system to weaken by the weekend.

Neither the Delhi government nor the Centre nor the National Green Tribunal can order the wind to blow faster.

In fewer words, it’s going to stay like this till the weekend, after which it is expected to get better.

This round of the odd-even scheme will last only five days. It will begin on November 13, a Monday. This happens to be the very day by which the weather pattern is expected to have changed. In other  words, the odd-even plan will come into effect when the smoke starts blowing away. And by weekend, the skies of Delhi will most likely return to the depressing shade of grey we are used to.

It is clear that the government wants to be doing something. So it is doing just that – something. If it is innocent, the Delhi government is run by fools. If it is not innocent, it means the Delhi government aims to take credit for changing the weather.

And all of this is just about the intentions, seemingly petty ones, of the Delhi government.

We have not even begin discussing the real issues:

1. The smoke is a result of stubble burning by farmers. Find a way to get them to not do that, whatever that way may be.
2. The residents of cities across the northern plains are victims. The skies of their cities are not filled with smoke because they set every tree on fire. What then is the wisdom of asking victims not to drive for two or three days.
3. The efficacy of the odd-even scheme as a pollution-control method is questionable. If it was indeed effective, why did the Delhi government not implement it during the winter of 2016-17?
4. In the scheme of things, this maybe frivolous. Where is the justice for those who own vehicles with odd-numbered plates? They can’t drive for three days, while the even-numbered ones have to stay off the roads only for two.

Our governments – both states and Centre, politician and civil servant – have long gotten away from the responsibility of truthful and effective action through tokenisms like this latest round of odd-even.

It is time for them wake up and take a deep breath. Better they do something about it before their next coughing fit.

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