With pollution on the rise and an increase in the intensity and frequency of traffic jams in the city, Dehradun residents have called for the implementation of the odd-even formula. The road-rationing plan, currently being run in Delhi on an experimental basis, allows for vehicles having an even digit at the end of their number plate to run only on even-numbered days of the week, while odd numbered cars can only be driven on odd-numbered days.
Locals say that the traffic in the city has surged drastically over the past two decades, especially after Dehradun was announced the interim capital of Uttarakhand in 2000. While the Delhi government has said that it will not continue the plan without a proper review, people in Dehradun say that the city, with a population of 5.69 lakh (as per the 2011 Census), needs to implement or at least test the plan to reduce traffic snarls and improve the air quality.
“As Doon is an education hub, it has hundreds of schools and colleges. Many multi-storey residential apartments have also come up over the last decade. This has resulted in a drastic rise in traffic and hence the need for the odd-even formula,” Mahesh Bhandari, president of the Doon Resident Welfare Front, an umbrella group of 60 resident welfare associations of the city, said.
“The odd-even formula should certainly be applied or at least tested for in the city. It will not only reduce the traffic on the roads but would also help cut on the pollution,” added Vijay Vardhan Dandriyal, president of the Dehradun City Bus Association.
Although a formal study is yet to be conducted in this regard, motorised vehicular emissions are said to be contributing significantly to Dehradun’s air pollution. As per the Ambient Air Quality data (Year 2015) of the Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board of Uttarakhand, the average amount of PM 10 (Particulate Matter up to 10 microns) at Clock Tower - one of the busiest traffic points in the city - was found to be 153.91 PPM (parts per million volume of air) per day, around 50% higher than the permissible amount, said board member secretary Vinod Singhal.
When HT contacted the office of chief minister Harish Rawat, who holds the transport portfolio in the Uttarakhand, his media in-charge Surendra Kumar said that the state government is open to suggestions. “However, the fate of the odd-even formula is not clear in Delhi itself as of now. Besides, the Smart City plan is also on the cards in Dehradun. So we will not take up any step without proper homework,” he said.
According to the traffic police, a possible alternate to reduce the traffic could be to apply a road-rationing scheme on vikrams (auto rickshaws plying on shared seat basis). “At least 14% of traffic in the city would get reduced if each auto rickshaw is asked to stay off-road for one day a week,” said traffic inspector Ravikant Semwal.
Regional transport officer Sudhanshu Garg said that the implementation of such plans was a “policy issue” and hence can only be decided upon by the government. “However, given the traffic situation, it could be run here on a trial basis to explore its possible benefits in the city,” he said.
Solutions needed for traffic congestion in Doon
Private vehicles: 2.5 lakh
City buses: 270
Vikrams (3-wheelers): 1200
Commercial loaders, trolleys: 2500
(Source: Traffic police, Regional transport office, Dehradun police)