Authorities penalised 1,800 people on Monday for violating the AAP government’s odd-even scheme to combat vehicular pollution as Delhi got back to work after a long weekend.
The number of offenders registered a steep jump from last week with 138 people being fined on Friday, when the drive kicked off, and 276 the next day.
“Compliance was fairly low today, especially at the borders. This was also mainly because it was an extended weekend and people had gone out of the city and were returning,” said special commissioner of police (traffic) Muktesh Chander. “We are expecting a similar situation in the coming days as the rush is high at entry points.”
However, fewer traffic jams were reported at customary choke points. “We did not get any reports of major bottlenecks or snarls from the city. But due to extensive checks, traffic had slowed down at the city borders,” Chander added.
Delhi transport minister Gopal Rai said the government had cleared a “litmus test” and called the first working day during the odd-even restriction a success.
Rai said the government was committed to cleaning up Delhi’s toxic air and make it breathable for future generations.
“Delhiites have followed the odd-even rule and we are happy about it. There was speculation about chaos on Monday but everything went off smoothly,” he said. “We have noticed the same trend on 1st and 2nd of January and hope that for 15 days, it will be followed rigorously. There have been few violations but over 99% have complied with the rule.”
Air pollution figures for the day were less cheery than on the previous two days when the restriction was in place. According to experts, this was because of low wind speed and an overcast sky.
Along with violators of the odd-even rule, more than 200 auto rickshaws were also penalised for refusing and overcharging travellers.
“Our helpline has received 800 queries and 25,000 people have downloaded the Pooch-O app (to augment taxi and auto-rickshaw services). We have got full cooperation from the Delhi Metro,” said Rai.
The Metro ridership was similar to December peak hours and it was prepared to handle the full capacity of 3.4 million passengers a day.
Extra buses were also running on the roads to handle the expected passenger traffic but most of them were not crowded as people opted for carpooling.
The Delhi government has also formed 25 monitoring teams to get feedback from 50 Metro stations and 65 teams to assess crowding in buses.
PWD minister Satyendar Jain claimed travel time had reduced by half and it was a great sign.
Rai hit out at school owners for not participating in the drive and ditching at the last moment by not providing buses.
He also said some people were trying to misguide others by sharing old pictures of crowded Delhi Metro trains on social media.