The odd-even formula may be back as early as February 14 but only if Delhiites ‘vote’ in favour of the road-rationing scheme aimed at clearing the city’s notoriously toxic air.
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday said his government will seek public opinion on the second phase of the scheme through a questionnaire which can be mailed back to firstname.lastname@example.org. It also plans to start a phone line and hold jan sabhas in each constituency to gather feedback.
Suggestions can be sent in till February 8 and the government is expected to come up with details of the second phase on February 10.
“We have decided to seek public opinion in a structural way and incorporate people’s suggestions before implementing the second phase... From tomorrow, we will issue advertisements asking the masses to email their suggestions to email@example.com. We also plan to introduce a phone line soon,” the chief minister told reporters on Monday.
The questionnaire asks Delhiites whether they are in favour of a second phase, its duration and when it should start. The government had earlier hinted that the scheme, which restricts odd-numbered private cars to odd dates and even-numbered to even dates, could be back during school vacation in May-June.
The questionnaire, however, gives the option of four dates, the earliest being February 14 when the Kejriwal government completes one year in power.
It also addresses concerns of multiple exemptions and people resorting to buying a second car to drive on all days. “The experience in other countries shows that only 7-8% people bought new cars after the introduction of the road-rationing scheme. Let us see what the people of Delhi say,” Kejriwal said.
The Delhi government has said the trial phase of the scheme was a success with pollution levels dropping but the claim has been debated with some air quality monitoring indices showing a hike in levels of PM2.5 – tiny pollutants that can lodge deep into the lungs and cause serious respiratory ailments. Environmental experts had also questioned exemptions to two-wheelers and women-only cars. Subsequent phases may see these exemptions go.
With many Delhiites complaining of inadequate public transport during the trial phase, the government had urged them to carpool instead. “The number of buses is expected to be the same (in the second phase). According to the reactions I got, most people car-pooled in the trial phase. The ridership in buses went up by 7% while that in the Metro went up only by 0.4%. Car-pooling is the most practical way to travel on odd-even days,” Kejriwal said on Monday.