Delhi’s 25 million residents woke up in the new year on Friday crunching numbers as the Capital embarked on a radical experiment for the next two weeks when residents will be allowed to drive their cars only on alternate days.
2:20 pm: Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday said it was not possible to implement the odd-even traffic rationing scheme on a permanent basis.
“It is not possible to implement the scheme permanently,” Kejriwal told CNN-IBN. “These weapons are used on temporary basis to curb dangerous levels of pollution.”
He said the scheme would be in practice till January 15. “A decision on whether to continue it or not will be taken only after January 15.”
The odd-even scheme that allows odd and even-numbered private vehicles to ply on city roads on alternate days aims at reducing air pollution levels.
Gopal Rai travels by bus; Kejriwal calls odd-even a success
11:20 am Kejriwal, who carpooled with transport minister Gopal Rai and health minister Satyendra Jain to Delhi Secratariat on Friday morning, said he was “overwhelmed” by the response of people towards the odd-even scheme in New Delhi. The scheme has been successful so far, the Aam Aadmi Party convenor said.
“I am truly overwhelmed by the response we have received so far. There are very less even-numbered cars on the roads,” Kejriwal said.
He said the people of Delhi accepted the scheme “whole-heartedly”, adding: “I am confident that in next five years people will show the way to rest of the country.”
Delhi has done it! Reports so far v encouraging. Delhiites! U give me hope that U are capable of achieving big challenges— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) January 1, 2016
Transport minister Rai was seen travelling by bus to take stock of the implementation of the odd-even formula.
“Met all challenges so far, we were wondering whether Delhites would take to Odd-Even, but they have. I thank Delhiites from the bottom of my heart for their effort today,” Rai told HT.
On Friday, most cars appeared to be following the rules and traffic was a tiny trickle compared to the usual rush-hour chaos. But with all schools and colleges and many offices shut, the traffic volumes were not truly indicative of the plan’s success.
Top politicians, judges, police and prison officials, women and sick people and motorbikes are exempt from the new rules.
AAP volunteers hand out roses to Delhi’s odd-even violators
10 am As the much-debated odd-even rule kicked in, pollution meters have been put up at several places across the city while Aam Aadmy Party leaders were seen carpooling and travelling to work on bikes. Several civil defence volunteers were seen holding placards and giving roses to violators of the odd-even rule.
Wow Delhi Thank you for making #OddEvenFormula a success... just reached office on bike.. no traffic.. Delhi is following it voluntarily :)— Kapil Mishra (@KapilMishraAAP) January 1, 2016
9.00am Commuters tweet photos of odd-even violators
Even as the Delhii government is opting for carpooling today -- CM Kejriwal is leading the odd-even formula by offering to share his official vehicles with transport minister Rai and health minister Satyendra Jain, many cars on the road were seen flouting the new rule despite January 1 being an ‘odd’ day. .
Commuters tweeted out photos of even-numbered cars seen on Delhi’s road after 8 am, when the odd-even rule kicked in.
First violator challaned at ITO as Odd-Even kicks in
8.15am A few unlucky even-numbered cars were challaned in the morning. The first violator was penalised at ITO.
However, the Aam Aadmi Party exuded confidence that Delhiites will ensure the odd-even formula is a success.
@TransportDelhi, the Official Twitter handle of the transport department of the Delhi govt, is now live to assist customers with the best routes and real-time information on public transport .
The government has deployed hundreds of volunteers and 3000 buses to help traffic police.
It has issued two helplines – 011-42400400 and 011-41400400 – for people to register complaints
Odd-even violators to face a fine of Rs 2,000; If caught in odd-even chaos in Delhi, call helpline
7.00 am: To clean the Capital’s toxic air, only odd-numbered private cars will be allowed on the road on odd dates and even-numbered on even days. Violators face a fine of Rs 2,000.
The Delhi government has announced two helpline numbers and a Twitter handle for those stuck without commuting options during its implementation from January 1.
Commuters can register their complaints or seek any other help on the odd-even scheme through these contact numbers, transport minister Rai said.
“If people face any problem during the (implementation of) odd-even scheme till January 15, they can call on 011-42400400/41400400 or register their complaints on Twitter handle @transportdelhi,” Rai said. “Complaints will be immediately resolved. However, with elaborate preparations already in place, the chances of any inconvenience to the people are low,” he said.
The much-hyped plan has dominated headlines and triggered political fights but on-the-ground implementation remains doubtful with the city’s police force fretting over “inadequate resources and time crunch” and a combative chief minister alleging the central government wanted the initiative to fail.
Around 3,000 more buses have been added to the existing DTC fleet of around 6,000, Delhi Metro service frequency has been cranked up and a fleet of around 80,000 cabs – swanky Ubers and ubiquitous Kaali Peelis – will jostle for space with another 80,000 autos.
Public transport is crucial to the success of the odd-even formula. Environmental activists say the city’s inadequate transport system is one of the biggest reasons for its polluted air as people are forced to drive themselves around, pushing up vehicular emissions.
The run-up to January 1 has been marred by several instances of a roaring business in fake number plates, stickers to alter the last digit in keeping with the odd-even formula, ‘reversible’ plates and many more cheat options, as reported by Hindustan Times earlier this month.
A giant list of exemptions that not only includes a number of VIPs but also CNG vehicles and two-wheelers has also triggered doubts about whether the drive will be successful.
Events on New Year’s eve did little to ease people’s anxiety, many of who will have to find another mode of transport, perhaps car pool or jostle for space on buses and Metro.
Thursday started with the Delhi government accusing the Centre and its representative, lieutenant governor Nejeeb Jung, of orchestrating the “mass leave” by the city’s officials to derail the road-space rationing scheme.
Around 200 officials stayed away from work to protest the suspension of two colleagues penalised by the Kejriwal government for alleged insubordination. The Centre revoked the suspensions in the morning, triggering a war of words.
Delhi’s transport minister Rai alleged that some schools, which had volunteered their buses for the scheme, were being “pressured” into withdrawing their offer.
“Out of the 3,000 buses registered for the scheme, 1,800 are school buses offered voluntarily… When phone calls went to some of these schools, they complained they were being pressured not to provide their buses,” Rai said, without elaborating.
The government plans to deploy 3,000 additional buses to ensure that driving restrictions don’t inconvenience people. These buses will be in addition to 6,000 DTC and cluster buses that are already running in the city.
“Efforts were made to defeat the Anna and Janlokpal movement. But we succeeded because they became people’s movement. I request the city residents to follow the restrictions and convert this into another people’s movement,” Rai said.
With the launch of the plan coinciding with the New Year, traffic police said they would be stretched. “Our officers will be out manning the roads on New Year’s eve till 3am and they’ll have to be ready again before 8am for the odd-even,” said Muktesh Chander, special commissioner of police (traffic). They might face a crunch but were determined to make the campaign a success, he said.
There could be another problem. More than 40 students from various city schools are likely to be out on the streets to create “awareness”. The directorate of education Thursday asked some government schools to send at least 30-40 students.
Police red-flagged the proposal. Children on roads would be a safety hazard, Chander said. “On the first day of the odd-even rule when all the officers will be out making sure that there is no confusion on the roads we cannot be running after children. If any mishap happens who will be responsible?” he said.