The plan to allow odd and even numbered cars on alternate days will be tried out as a temporary solution to Delhi’s air pollution woes that have necessitated “emergency” measures, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Saturday.
The government will implement with public engagement other steps such as vacuum cleaning of roads and greening of sidewalks as manual sweeping has proved inadequate to remove dust, the CM said at the concluding session of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit moderated by Editor-in-Chief Sanjoy Narayan.
“We wanted to announce restrictions on private vehicles with full preparation but after the emergency situation, repeated concerns and the ensuing panic we had to announce a slew of measures right now,” he said.
“Let’s try the odd-even car formula for at least a few days, 10-15 days to start with. If there are a lot of problems, we can stop it and learn from the failure. We don’t want to cause any inconvenience to the public.”
Maintaining that his government wanted to improve public infrastructure first, the CM said major steps will be taken keeping public feedback in mind.
“We were planning dedicated elevated bus corridors. We wanted to introduce the restrictions after that as a medium-term solution but the emergency situation mandated the announcement.”
Acknowledging the huge implementation challenges, Kejriwal said the coming 20 days will be used to work out the modalities of the road rationing announcement.
“Now, many things have to be thrashed out. Many exemptions are to be worked out. All ideas are welcome. We will soon seek ideas formally from the public. We will do what you want,” he said.
Odd-even car restrictions have been implemented across the world since the 1980s. Beijing — pipped by Delhi as the most polluted city in the world last year — introduced the measure before the 2008 Olympics. The measure, when implemented from time to time, usually lasts a few days or weeks until the air quality improves. Several variations of this have been implemented in cities across the world such as Mexico City and Bogota.
To stop polluting commercial vehicles from entering Delhi, the government is planning a heavy fine on those who fail to meet the PUC (pollution under control) criteria. “We won’t send them (trucks) back as that will impact supply of essential goods but the fine will be so high that they will not make the same mistake again,” Kejriwal said.
All PUC certification centres in the city will be brought under a centralised server.
“A certificate will not be issued till the readings comply with set standards. There can be no manipulation. This will take a few months to implement,” he said.
Elaborating on the other steps to tackle air pollution announced by his government on Friday, Kejriwal said, “Vacuum cleaning will start on PWD roads from April 2016. That will suck all the dust. Greening of pavements and central verges will also start by January. Mobile applications will be used to complain about garbage burning and polluting vehicles,” he said.
Speaking about governance, Kejriwal said a hostile government at the Centre was his biggest challenge.
“It is not rocket science to govern. Everything is possible but it is the day-to-day interference that saps you,” he said.
Talking about his willingness to work with the central government, Kejriwal said, “I told the PM, whatever your dreams are – Swachh Bharat, Skill Mission or Yoga – I will fulfil them but allow me the freedom to take decisions. The credit will go to you.”
Asked about the PM’s response, Kejriwal said, “Woh kuch bolte hi nahi (he doesn’t say anything).”