India Fights Pollution by Alternating Car Use

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. curb / kɜrb / (v) – to restrain or limit something

    The government should not curb spending on eco-friendly initiatives.

  2. skyrocket / ˈskaɪˌrɒk ɪt / (v) – to increase significantly in a short period

    Environmental initiatives are needed as carbon dioxide levels continue to skyrocket.

  3. stubble / ˈstʌb əl / (n) – excess ends of crops that have been cut down

    Farmers burn crop stubbles so that they can use the land again for a new harvest.

  4. decongest / ˌdi kənˈdʒɛst / (v) – to put a stop to blockage or crowdedness

    One way to decongest traffic in the city is to ban delivery trucks during the day.

  5. in place / ɪn pleɪs / (idiom) – established or currently functioning, usually used in laws or policies

    Because the new law is now in place, the police can start charging violators a fine of $50.


Read the text below.

Last November, the Indian capital of Delhi re-implemented car rationing to curb pollution in the city.

Car rationing, also known as the odd-even scheme, is a system allowing private vehicles to operate on certain days according to the last digit of their plate number. Those ending with odd numbers can operate on odd dates, while those with even numbers can operate on even dates.

According to the WHO, Delhi is experiencing dangerous levels of pollution. In fact, pollution levels skyrocket in the capital in winter because farmers burn crop stubble to clear their lands. The capital also suffers from pollution caused by factors such as construction debris, firecrackers, and low wind speeds.

India first enforced car rationing in January 2016 for two weeks and was able to decongest streets by taking out three million private cars. However, motorcycles, police cars, ambulances, fire trucks, and single women who drive cars were exempted from the scheme.

Reports claimed that India was able to ease traffic, but it was unclear whether it truly helped mitigate pollution.

Other cities around the world have also tried car rationing to fight pollution. One of the most successful attempts was in Paris. In 2014, Paris banned cars with even number plates from entering the city from morning to midnight. The government also offered free public transportation and imposed a reduced speed limit on all cars. The scheme was successful although it was only in place for a day.

Beijing also succeeded in curbing air pollution before and after the 2008 Summer Olympics through car rationing. Because of the scheme’s success, the city made car rationing permanent in October of the same year.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think that car rationing will have a big impact on reducing pollution or traffic? Explain.
• Should your country also implement car rationing? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Who should initiate anti-pollution schemes and similar projects (e.g. the government, NGOs, etc.)? Explain.
• How can you encourage the public to support anti-pollution schemes? Discuss.