Kejriwal launches ‘Red Light On, Gaadi Off’ campaign to discourage idling at traffic signals

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal Thursday launched a new anti-pollution campaign under which motorists will be encouraged to switch off vehicles while waiting for the lights to turn green at traffic signals.

“It has been seen that we often do not switch off our vehicle engines while waiting at traffic signals. That is called idling. The ‘Red Light On, Gaadi Off’ campaign will aim to bring a behavioural change in that regard. It will help reduce air pollution,” said Kejriwal in a video press briefing.

He added, “Around 10 million vehicles are registered in Delhi. Even if one million of them actively follow the campaign, experts suggest that it can reduce PM10 emissions by 1.5 tonnes a year and PM2.5 emissions by 0.4 tonnes a year.”

“Idling (waiting at a traffic signal with engine on) consumes more fuel than a normal drive. On average, a car is left idling for around 15 to 20 minutes a day, and that ends up exhausting at least 200ml of fuel. Experts have suggested that one can save ₹7,000 a year by avoiding idling,” the chief minister said.

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While appealing to all motorists to join the drive, Kejriwal said, “Covid-19 has led to distress among people, let’s ensure that pollution doesn’t make things worse for us.”

“Crop stubble burning in neighbouring states leads to pollution in Delhi. That has been the case for years now. We cannot do much about other states, but we are taking all possible measures to control local sources of pollution by implementing an anti-dust strategy, a tree transplantation policy, an electric vehicle policy and decomposing crop stubble using new technology. This campaign will be another step towards reducing pollution,” he said.

Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director at the Centre for Science and Environment, said, “For this campaign to work in terms of behavioural change, it is very important to make sure traffic signals have timers and that the timers are functional. Several survey estimates have shown that reduced idling can lead to energy saving and less toxic exposure to particulate matters, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxide.”

Mukti Advani, principal scientist at the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI), said, “Switching off engines will reduce fuel consumption as the wait at any traffic signal may go beyond 20 seconds. In 2018, the CRRI had conducted an awareness campaign on idling along with Petroleum Conservation and Research Association and surveyed 100 intersections in the city for a period of six months.”

“It is recommended that such awareness campaigns be conducted on a regular basis. An adequate number of countdown timers should be positioned correctly for better results,” said Advani, citing the survey findings.

“However, Delhi needs to find alternative ways to decongest its roads; primarily, by reducing the number of private vehicles and by providing better public transport. Road capacity has to be improved by removing encroachments such as parked vehicles, and vehicles that break down on the road, etc,” she said.

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