The host of exemptions from the Delhi government’s odd-even scheme, especially for two-wheelers and VIPs, has come under severe criticism
CNG and electric cars, two-wheelers, cars with only women occupants, differently-abled drivers, ambulances, fire engines and VVIP vehicles are among 25 categories exempted from the odd-even rule. Also included are vehicles being used for medical emergencies, though these will be allowed on “trust basis”. Vehicles entering the city from NCR towns will have to adhere to the road-space rationing plan.
According to the Centre for Science and Environment, which has supported the odd-even plan, two-wheelers are responsible for 31% of particulate matter pollution from vehicles.
Particulate matter is the most prominent pollutant in Delhi.
“We extend support to the odd-even number formula but are disappointed at the many exemptions — most notably the two-wheelers and single women-driven cars. This creates loopholes and leakages in the programme that can compromise the overall effectiveness of the programme,” the CSE said in a statement.
Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter were abuzz with a number of people calling these exemptions unfair. Several citizens questioned the rationale behind giving exemptions to VIP vehicles.
Delhi government officials said that they were aware of the criticism and implications but the move was necessary. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, acknowledging the reservations, said, “The current public transport capability will not be able to handle the load if twowheelers are included in the scheme. Let us try this once, we can increase the ambit later.”
There are around 55 lakh twowheelers registered in Delhi. The number of registered cars is 27 lakh.
“We are aware of the criticism. For two-wheelers the reason is simple. We don’t have the capacity to give them viable alternatives as of now. When it comes to VIP vehicles, we are hoping VIPs will set an example and follow the odd-even rule voluntarily. Judges and a few ministers and MPs have already said they are willing to carpool. When it comes to CNG cars and cars driven by women, the number is very small when compared to other cars whose movement will be restricted. We are still hoping that women will follow the rule voluntarily,” said a senior government official.
Appreciating the rest of the plan, CSE executive director, Anumita Roy Chowdhury said, “With traffic volumes halved, bus services can be augmented. Moreover, additional buses, pooling and sharing of twowheelers and cars will further improve the overall carrying capacity of the available fleet.”
The NGO also suggested that the government release a route-wise plan for augmented bus and Metro services, ensure safe access for walkers and cyclists and encourage and disseminate information on car pool and ride sharing to institutions and RWAs.