Odd-even to make a come-back in April
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal announced that odd-even scheme's 2nd phase will be launched on April 15 for 15 days. The announcement came after AAP made public the results of a survey that pointed out that people were in favour of getting the scheme back. AAP's transport minister said 11 lakh people had responded through multiple channels asking for the odd-even scheme to return.
Delhi's novel odd-even formula for cars kicked off today as a radical step to lower down smog in the world's most polluted city. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that he was "overwhelmed by the response" the citizens of Delhi had given. Volunteers were seen on roads, holding placards explaining the rules. Today, only odd numbered cars will be allowed on the road.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal following the odd even formula carpooled, Kejriwal travelled with two ministers- Gopal Rai, the Transport Minister, and Health Minister Satyendra Jain. While Tourism Minister Kapil Mishra took a bike to work; Imran Hussain, the Environment Minister used an e-rickshaw to commute to the government headquarters on odd-numbered dates, as his car had an even-numbered license plate.
Delhi's odd-even rule drew praise from some who called it the "futuristic approach" and yet others dubbed it as "impractical" but everyone agreed that there was less congestion on the roads. People said that it was difficult to instantly get used to public transport but that they were making efforts. Some medical practitioners, however, complained that medical personnel should be exempted.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said it was not possible to implement the odd-even traffic rationing scheme on a permanent basis. The current plan will reach completion on 15 January. Kejriwal said that this was a temporary fix to curb pollution and decision whether to continue this formula further or not will only be arrived at on its completion.
While the Delhi government tried to implement the new odd- even rule, the flipside of it was the roaring business in fake number plates, and stickers to alter the last digit of the cars in keeping with the odd-even formula. The officials also reported that some people were using 'reversible' plates to avoid being restricted from taking out their vehicles.
The first offender to be penalised for taking out an even numbered car said that he was going to office and "there was no convenient transportation facility from his residence near Pari Chowk, the intersection between Noida and Greater Noida".
As the AAP government introduced its odd-even scheme in Delhi, the BJP said it was done without sufficient arrangements while the Congress chose to 'wait and watch' before commenting on the road-rationing move. The pollution levels in Delhi changed only minimally, mostly because the drop in temperatures and the New Year fireworks. BJP criticised AAP calling it 'big success' within hours of its implementation.
As part of measures to meet the challenges of odd-even scheme, additional number of buses and metros have been fielded. 5,500 buses have been pressed into service, and Metro is expected to carry 32 lakh commuters, as against the previous data of 26 lakh daily.
Monday, the first full-working day after the implementation of the odd-even scheme, saw crowded buses and metros for the first few hours. Around 200 traffic challans were issued before noon as the scheme faced its big test. Several commuters shared cabs and carpooled, including CM Kejriwal. City's usual choke points were mostly traffic-free. Commuters even tweeted their experience of finding less traffic on roads.
The Delhi High Court questioned the state government why it was essential to continue the odd-even traffic rule for further than a week, and asked if it could close the project directed towards curbing Delhi's pollution. The HC said that government didn't "have enough public transport to ferry the public." HC also wanted updates on changes in the level of pollution since 1 January.
The Delhi government has stated that it may extend the odd-even traffic formula by another 15 days after 15 January. Transport minister Gopal Rai said on Friday that the state government will decide after analyzing pollution data collected till January 15. Mr. Rai had said earlier this week that particulate matter levels have reduced by 30% since the plan was implemented.
The Delhi High Court stated that the odd-even formula, implemented by the AAP government will continue as scheduled until 15 January. However, it urged the Delhi government to take into account the various suggestions given by petitioner groups, including from handicapped sections. Sources stated that the Delhi government would analyze pollution data to review the formula's progress and decide its next steps.