Around 200 traffic challans were issued before noon as Delhi’s road space rationing scheme faced a big test on Monday, the first full working day after an extended weekend since the implementation of the odd-even campaign on January 1.
While Delhi tourism minister Kapil Mishra took a bus to the Delhi Secratariat, with the national capital allowing only cars with even-numbered licence plates on the streets, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal car-pooled with Delhi transport minister Gopal Rai and home minister Satyendra Jain to the Delhi Secretariat in Rai’s Tata Nano.
Officials earlier said as the odd-even scheme was rolled out during holidays, fewer vehicles were seen on the roads. Public transport, including Metro trains and buses, witnessed less-than-normal rush. Special commissioner of police (traffic) Muktesh Chander admitted that “Monday will be the actual test of the odd-even restriction rule”.
More than a million private cars were banned from New Delhi’s roads on Friday (January 1) as the drastic new measures to curb pollution in the Capital came into force. For 15 days from January 1, cars with odd-numbered licence plates will be allowed on the roads on odd-numbered dates and those with even-numbered plates will ply on even-numbered dates.
Hundreds of traffic police and volunteers took to the streets to enforce the scheme as dozens of children wearing smog masks and holding banners urged drivers to follow the rules. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and his cabinet colleagues led the way by using different modes of transport — motorbike, e-rickshaw, bus and carpooling — to travel to the secretariat.
The ruling AAP said the “near absence” of even-numbered cars on Friday was encouraging and it showed people have appreciated the message of “choosing health over facilities”.
“Some people are saying that the real test of this scheme will be on Monday when people in large numbers will go to work. I am confident that in the coming days as well, Delhiites will continue to support our endeavour as they will choose the health of their child over their comfort,” transport minister Gopal Rai said.
Kejriwal has described the “success” of day one as a “movement” but admitted the 15-day trial of allowing odd and even-numbered private vehicles to ply on alternate days could not be a permanent solution.
“It is not possible to implement the scheme permanently,” he told a news channel. “These weapons are used on a temporary basis to curb dangerous levels of pollution.”
As per estimates, about one million private cars are expected to go off the road if the scheme, with the exemptions, tastes success on a regular day.
Many cities that face a pollution problem are keenly watching Delhi to see how the national capital’s newly introduced odd-even vehicle scheme fares in the coming days.