Delhi mulls monthly odd-even scheme
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that his government is mulling a proposal to enforce the odd-even scheme for 15 days every month. He added that a fortnight every month was being thought of since it cannot be made permanent in the absence of a robust public transport system. Kejriwal added that the proposal was still under consideration and mentioned no dates of implementation.
WHO stated that the deadly PM2.5 level in Delhi air was 10 times higher than the safety limit and even four times higher than the Indian safety limit, affecting millions every year. Researchers from the University of Surrey stated that Delhi boasted of "dangerous levels of air pollution" mostly due to the alarming rise in the number of vehicles in the city.
Arvind Kejriwal launched the odd-even policy on vehicles within Delhi and the ones plying from NCR to curb the pollution rate. The policy was unveiled and would start its 15-day trial period from 1 January. The scheme was applicable on vehicles everyday, barring Sundays, from 8 am to 8 pm. CNG certified cars, women drivers, two-wheelers and emergency vehicles were exempted from this rule.
The odd-even policy meant that odd car numbers will ply on odd dates and even on even dates; any exception to it would result in fine. The sole purpose was to cut down air pollution and its effects.
The odd-even policy was successfully launched and within the first two hours, Kejriwal congratulated the city for its acceptance of the radical scheme. The government had also introduced 3000 government buses and high-frequency metro services for the commuters' convenience. The government had launched two helplines for queries and clarifications, and tied up with Twitter for real-time traffic updates.
The fortnight-long trial period was positive with 20-30% reduction in pollution level and better traffic situation. It is being suggested to extend the policy and include the entire NCR in its ambit. Also, bike lanes and carpooling needed to be implemented to avoid complete dependence on public communication. Delhi Transport minister stated that it was early to make a decision on odd-even's full implementation.
Firstpost, based on IndiaSpend's report, reported that the pollution level in Delhi rose by 15% during the trial period of the odd-even policy. IndiaSpend reported that the policy lacked research and needed amendments to reduce the increasing PM 2.5 level of air pollution. The 12-hour exemption and also the allowance of trucks and two-wheelers resulted in the disparity in the final outcome.
The Delhi CM held a meet at the Chhatrasal Stadium to congratulate the people on the success of the odd-even policy. The event turned messy when Bhavna Arora (an AAPS member) splashed ink on him and made the allegation of Kejriwal's involvement in CNG scam through this policy. The deputy CM rose to action accusing the police and BJP for scripting the incident.
Bhavna Arora from Punjab claimed to be a part of AAPS, a splinter group formed by AAP rebels. She had opposed Kejriwal's administration repeatedly and showed evidence proving the AAP government's involvement in a CNG scam worth crores.
The AAP claimed that the ink attack was a part of bigger exercise to "physically harm" Kejriwal as none of the security personnel had accompanied Kejriwal. The AAP's claims that the Delhi Police had not provided adequate security were rubbished by Delhi Police chief BS Bassi. Moreover, the BJP too was quick to retort that the incident was most likely "stage-managed".
In a meeting with the home minister, Delhi Police Chief Bassi said a cop from Kejriwal's security had complained that "he was asked to step down from the dais when Kejriwal was addressing the gathering in Chhatrasal stadium". Many other cops too said the CM "had, on a number of occasions, stopped them from accompanying him." Bassi said the woman too was being interrogated.
The Kejriwal government announced that a 3-tier air quality monitoring will be fixed by Delhi government ahead of the second phase of odd-even from 15-30 April. Transport Minister Gopal Rai said women driven cars and those with children (wearing school uniforms) will be exempted from the rule. Like the first phase, even the two-wheelers will be outside the purview of odd-even.