The first two days of the odd-even scheme rolled out in Delhi for reducing air pollution, has received mixed reactions from residents of the capital.
The air pollution level, however, showed marginal decline during this period. Experts feel that it is difficult to assess the success of the scheme as this was a long weekend, and that Monday will be the real test when all the offices reopen.
Neeraj Kumar, a resident of Mayur Vihar, feels that the road rationing scheme implemented by the Delhi government is for the larger good. While speaking to this newspaper he said: “I am happy to travel by the Metro if this makes us breathe healthy. I have an even numbered car and will take the Metro on odd days, but the government should regulate the two-wheelers as they are the larger contributor to pollution.”
On the other hand, Varun Dhody, a CA professional, who travels from Greater Kailash to Gurgaon regularly, is wary of this decision. He said: “This is a flop decision. Without putting adequate public transport in place, the government forced this decision on us. I have an even numbered car, so how will I commute on odd days if I have to go to office late and leave late? Car owners have been made a scapegoat without looking into other larger problems. The real picture would come out clear from Monday when all offices would reopen. ”
However, most roads in Delhi were thinly populated, indicating that people largely abided by the scheme. A large number of traffic police and civil defence personnel were deployed on roads to check on violators. A traffic cop on duty in Connaught Place said, “We have not sighted many violators. The ones caught were mainly from the exempt category. We were also told to educate people for the first two days. The real action will begin from Monday.”
A civil defence personnel posted at the Naraiana crossing said, “We have caught a few cars that were not supposed to be out today. We are explaining to them the cause (for which the scheme has been undertaken) and presenting them with a rose, too. We were strictly told not to be rude with the violators.” However, as many as 117 violators have been fined Rs 2,000 each on the first day, with the first violator being caught near ITO just 33 minutes after the scheme came into effect.
The air pollution level in the capital did see a dip through both the days. However, according to experts, there will not be any significant change as low temperatures trap pollutants close to the earth’s surface. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal thanked the people of Delhi for cooperating with the scheme, while addressing the media outside his residence.
The Delhi government has tried to pull in the public transport system to meet the demands of about 10 lakh people who would be forced to give up their cars every alternate day. It has roped in 3,000 private buses along with the Metro that will run 70 extra trips every day, during the 15-day period. AAP MLA Kapil Mishra told The Sunday Guardian, “We are trying to put an adequate public transport system in place. I am myself using public transport to set an example. This should be a people’s movement... I thank the people of Delhi for cooperating with the government.”
Addressing questions about the government’s intention of continuing with the rule and its stance on two wheelers, he said, “We will hold a review meeting after the 15th and then take further action, but it cannot be made permanent. In case of two-wheelers, I understand the concern and it would be discussed and if possible, (they) would be restricted in the second phase.”
The scheme received flak from the Delhi High Court, when it pulled up the AAP government, questioning its decision to exempt certain categories. Acting on a writ petition filed by advocate Manoj Kumar, the court asked the government to respond to the plea within three days. The matter will be heard on 6 January. Kumar said, “On what basis was the exemption list prepared? There’s no clarity about that. The government arbitrarily forced the scheme on the citizens.”