The second week of the second phase of the Kejriwal government’s odd-even traffic plan has run into the reconvened budget session, with some MPs seeking exemption from road rationing.
The driving restrictions aimed at cleaning the city’s toxic air came up for discussion on Sunday at an all-party meeting called by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to discuss the agenda of the session that begins Monday, sources said.
Jithender Reddy of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen’s Asaduddin Owaisi demanded that the Lok Sabha secretariat write to the Delhi government to keep members of Parliament out of the plan. Parliament was not in session when the odd-even plan was introduced in January.
Senior Nationalist Congress Party leader Tariq Anwar suggested the secretariat give the members radio-frequency tags for two personal cars against one that allows lawmakers bring a vehicle to the high-security Parliament complex.
The proposal, however, was opposed by Biju Janata Dal’s Bhartruhari Mahtab. “When the Chief Justice of India says he can come by bus to his office, MPs should lead by examples and not seek exemptions,” sources quoted the Cuttack MP as saying.
As some lawmakers tried to shout him down, Mahtab said, “This is not the floor of the House where you can shout at me. This is a meeting.”
Mahajan, sources said, later told some lawmakers that seeking exemption was “really unthinkable”.
The secretariat came up with a solution and so did the Delhi government. The secretariat will increase the number of pool cars that MPs travel in.
The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha run a pool-car service charging an MP Rs 5 for a ride from their residence to Parliament. Cars like WagonR, Eeco and Qualis are used for the pick-up and drop service.
While driving restrictions do not apply to president, vice-president, prime minister, union ministers, Chief Justice of India, judges of high courts and women, there is no such relief for MPs.
For them, the Delhi transport department will run a shuttle service from Monday. After talking to Mahajan, Delhi transport minister Gopal Rai ordered three DTC buses each to pick up MPs from North Avenue and South Avenue – areas where a majority of lawmakers stay — after 9am, a Delhi government spokesperson said.
The Capital kicked in the second phase of the odd-even plan on April 15, with private cars allowed on every second day in keeping with the last digit of their registration plates. The curbs will be in place till April 30 while the session ends May 13.