A numbers game is being played out in Delhi’s motor markets to beat the road-rationing plan that kicks in from the New Year’s Day.
Fake number plates, stickers to alter the last digit in keeping with the odd-even formula, ‘reversible’ plates and many more cheat options are on offer.
In fact, the Delhi government’s decision to allow odd-numbered vehicles on the road on odd dates and those with even-numbered plates on even dates seems to have sprung a mini industry of fakes.
Hindustan Times managed to get two plates — one ending with an odd number and other with even — after paying Rs 200 in a West Delhi market. No questions asked.
While the long list of those exempted has activists worried about the success of the road-rationing plan, fake number plates could well turn out to be yet another odd the government would have to battle to clean Delhi’s toxic air.
A fine of Rs 2,000 is to be slapped on those violating the driving restrictions but a Rs 5 sticker is all that one needs to change a number plate.
The odd-even formula will be implemented from January 1 to 15 between 8am and 8pm excluding Sundays when there would be no restrictions.
When HT visited Karol Bagh, locals directed the team to the busy Shastri motor market for a quick fix on number plates.
“I’ll give you a new number plate that has stickers on it. All you need to do is peel off the last digit and replace it with either an odd or an even number in keeping with the day,” said a shopkeeper who sells car accessories. Typically, registration numbers are painted on the plate.
A few shops down the lane, the owner had a “better” solution.
“If you remove stickers every day, they will leave glue marks and can make the cops suspicious. I suggest you use embossed number plates where the last digit can be changed,” he said.
In the embossed plates all the digits would be fixed except the last one that would be attached with a sticking tape or a magnet that would allow it to be taken off and replaced easily, he said.
The traders, who get at least five customers a day, had one word of caution: “Don’t reveal our names if you get caught.”
The posh Lajpat Nagar market in South Delhi is busy as well.
HT team was taken to the basement of a car accessory shop. “We could give you two separate number plates, one ending with an odd number and the other with an even but that will be tedious and expensive,” the owner said.
His cheaper solution: A reversible number plate. It would have the original registration number on one side and the reverse would be customised to suit the odd/even requirement, he said.
HT paid Rs 350 for a pair.
Phone calls and text messages to Delhi transport minister Gopal Rai remained unanswered.
Traffic police, however, said number plates would be watched closely. “A case of forgery will be filed against anyone caught using fake registration number plates,” said special commissioner of police (traffic) Muktesh Chander.
With the fakes looking good, police will have their work cut out when the vehicles hit the road.