Further investigations and analysis of NASA satellite pictures has exposed massive crop fires in Punjab and Haryana that started around April 19 – which could be the reason behind the rise in pollution levels. The CSE investigation was triggered by the widespread media reportage on the findings of India Spend that PM2.5 had increased by 23 per cent and PM10 by 22 per cent compared to the previous fortnight. This was also used by the automobile industry in the Supreme Court hearing on April 30, 2016 to claim that this shows that vehicles are insignificant contributors to pollution and therefore do not merit stringent action.
The CSE investigation has exposed how half-baked and irresponsible explanation of the air quality trend has led to misinterpretation of the benefit of the odd-and-even scheme and helped create the industry myth that vehicles are not the problem. India Spend and the industry have failed to catch the reason for the sudden spike in pollution post-April 22. They have missed the massive crop fires that started around April 20 and got intense over time and elevated pollution not only in Delhi, but in other cities of northern India as well.
Delhi's Odd Even Program Prevented Increase in Pollution
What is damaging is that in the absence of clear explanation of the reasons for the pollution spike towards the end of the scheme, this has led to the misleading conclusion that odd-and-even has not made any impact.