Massive traffic snarls returned to New Delhi and its suburbs on the first Monday after the two-week vehicle rationing experiment ended, prompting many on social media to link the chaos with the odd-even formula.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal was scheduled to chair a meeting later in the day to review the performance of the Beijing-inspired plan – both for its impact on pollution levels as well as on traffic.
Traffic crawled around major city intersections such as ITO, Ashram and Dhaula Kuan as well as NH 8 and Gurgaon-Delhi expressway. In Gurgaon, cars and buses packed roads at Iffco Chowk, Signature Tower, Huda city centre and the old Delhi-Gurgaon road.
Sonali Sharma, a daily commuter, said it took 45 minutes more to reach her office in sector 30 because of slow moving traffic at Iffco Chowk and Cyber Hub. The number of cars on the roads was visibly more than during the past fortnight when the odd-even plan for in force.
It was no different around central Delhi.
“During the odd even days, the roads were emptier and travel time had gone down considerably,” said Arun Kumar, a Vasant Kunj resident on way to work at Connaught Place.
Today it feels like Delhi again with bumper-to-bumper traffic and unending wait at signals.”
With the traffic on Delhi roads, it seems like people are taking revenge for deprivation of vehicle use during #OddEven— Puneet Gautam (@seriouslypuneet) January 18, 2016
Traffic restrictions on several arterial roads because of the Republic Day parade rehearsals on Janpath added to the chaos.
Each person driving to work has it written on his face that they're missing the traffic free #oddeven time, due to massive jams now— CA Rishabh Gupta (@RG365) January 18, 2016
Hundreds of school buses also returned on Monday. The Delhi government had extended school holidays during the odd-even trial.
The Delhi government, which will meet to review the experiment on Monday, is expected to make announcements in the coming days to “improve the scheme with precautions and changes” before it is implemented again.
The “improved” version will likely see the pruning of the list of exemptions and adding more buses. The pilot phase of the scheme had seen several exemptions, including for women. Two-wheelers were also kept out of its purview.
The AAP government will also review the impact of the scheme on the city’s pollution levels — the reason why it was introduced for a 15-day period in the first place. The Delhi Pollution Control Committee is expected to release a detailed report on its assessment of the impact of the odd-even rules on air pollution on Monday.
There is no conclusive report whether pollution dipped in the 15-day period.
The Delhi Pollution Control Committee used portable machines to monitor air quality at about 200 locations over the past fortnight. It says pollution went down by 50% compared to the same period the previous years. But for many spots there was no comparable data because this was the first time pollution readings had been taken there.
But, according to web portal IndiaSpend’s air-quality monitoring devices, air-pollution levels in the city went up by 15% during this period compared to the 15 days prior to it.
Another study by green the group, TERI, showed a marginal drop in pollution levels at the four Delhi Pollution Control Committee stations -- Mandir Marg, RK Puram, Punjabi Bagh and Anand Vihar.
Pollution data by various other monitoring agencies showed air quality improved in the second week of January compared to the first week of 2016. Experts say a fall in the wind speed and higher humidity were responsible for the increase in the concentration of pollutants.