Of those who gave feedback through the website oddevenidea.delhi.gov.in and in the 276 public meetings (mohalla sabhas) held across the city over the past 15 days, a sizeable majority wanted the road rationing scheme to come back as soon as possible and in a permanent fashion.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, however, brushed aside the possibility as the city’s public transport system is not equipped to deal with the increased pressure in a permanent way yet. The exemption for two-wheelers, which numerous people supported, was also justified by Kejriwal in a similar manner.
“We can’t implement the odd-even restriction in a permanent manner. We don’t have the public transport capability to support it. If we implement the scheme on the nearly 30 lakh two-wheelers, there will be chaos,” he said.
There are close to 90 lakh registered vehicles in Delhi. Of these, around 27 lakh are cars while 53 lakh are registered two wheelers.
Overall, 81% of the 410,443 people who gave feedback wanted the restriction back.
The government got feedback from 29,076 people on email, 43,113 at public meetings, 328,680 through phone calls and 9,574 through email.
Of a total of 276 public meetings it was only in one meeting in Vishwas Nagar where people were against the reintroduction of the road rationing scheme. At three others in Patel Nagar and Vishwas Nagar people said they would buy new cars if the scheme came back.
According to the feedback collected, a majority of people were against giving exemption to the seven categories of VIPs that were kept out of the ambit of the rule under the first phase of implementation.
Kejriwal, however, said this suggestion was not to be implemented. “We will request VIPs to follow the (odd-even) system. But we will keep the exemptions. The more the VIPs follow it voluntarily, it will be good,” Kejriwal said.
The Supreme Court had also backed the scheme, dismissing a slew of legal challenges, while even top judges carpooled during the trial.
The Delhi government introduced the scheme as part of a wider anti-pollution drive, after courts themselves took action including banning new, large diesel-guzzling SUVs.
The city’s air usually worsens in winter as cooler air traps pollutants and people light fires to stay warm.
A 2014 WHO survey of more than 1,600 cities ranked Delhi as the most polluted, partly because of the 8.5 million vehicles on its roads, with 1,400 more added every day.
Environmentalists had also welcomed the restrictions, but say they are unlikely to make a dramatic difference in the short term