The votes are in: popular support for Delhi’s odd-even road rationing plan is overwhelming. A two-day online poll run by Hindustan Times found that people regard the plan as a success, want it to continue and they would support similar measures.
A day before the plan was to end, the Supreme Court on Thursday refused to urgently hear a petition challenging a Delhi high court verdict that approved its implementation till January 15. The apex court even described the petition as a “publicity stunt”.
“People are dying due to air pollution… We are doing car pooling and you want to challenge it for publicity,” a bench headed by Chief Justice of India TS Thakur told advocate B Badrinath, who had appealed for an urgent Supreme Court hearing against a Delhi high court order that refused to cut short the 15-day initiative.
The public also seems to have a positive view on the scheme, which ends on January 15.
Hindustan Times launched an online poll on Tuesday, asking its readers to rate the 15-day traffic plan. They were also asked if the formula should continue in Delhi, and whether they would support a traffic congestion tax if it reduces pollution and jams on city roads.
As many as 15,261 readers responded to the questions till 4pm on Thursday, with many giving the AAP government’s initiative a thumbs up. An overwhelming 60.43% said that the AAP’s government’s radical policy was a success, while 21.28% thought it was a mixed bag. Only 18.29% of the respondents felt that the odd-even formula was a failure.
When asked whether they were ready to pay a traffic congestion tax, 66.72% of the readers replied in the positive. While 30.76% said no, only 2.52% of the respondents said they had no opinion on the issue.
As many as 68.27% of the readers said they wanted the odd-even formula to continue in Delhi, a far cry from the 29.8% that refused to support it. The ones without an opinion were a paltry 1.93%.
However, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal declared that the odd-even plan would not be extended. The government needs time to assess the impact of the experiment on air quality, he added.
Kejriwal has defended the scheme by describing it as an emergency measure aimed at reining in off-the-chart pollution in Delhi, where the air is probably the filthiest in the world.
Nevertheless, the jury is still out on the success of the plan, with some saying that the city witnessed a marginal dip in pollution during the period and others gushing over fewer traffic jams and smoother commutes. Critics of the scheme, however, say that the city’s public transport system is inadequate to handle the heavy commuter load, and the odd-even scheme has done precious little to curb air pollution.
(Note: Online polls are not scientific and respondents may not represent all sections of society.)