Delhi may have ‘location-specific’ staggered office timings from Nov 4 to combat congestion, pollution
From November, people working in busy business and office hubs such as Connaught Place, ITO, Karol Bagh, Nehru Place, Lajpat Nagar and Sarojini Nagar may see a change in their work hours as the Delhi government plans to roll out ‘location-specific’ staggered office timings in the national capital.
The initial plan was drafted by the government on Monday when chief minister Arvind Kejriwal met experts to discuss ways to implement staggered office hours to combat heavy traffic congestion and air pollution in Delhi.
According to the government’s plan, in busy business districts such as Nehru Place, offices will be asked to operate in different timings instead of all having a common 9am-5 pm works hours.
After the meeting, transport minister Kailash Gahlot said the staggered timings will start from November 4, the same day the odd-even road space rationing scheme is rolled out. “It is still not decided if the plan will be concluded with the odd-even drive, which will be over on November 15. It will totally depend on the success,” he said.
The minister said the changed timings will be applicable for Delhi government offices and area-specific private offices and markets alike. “If the government finds private organisations are proactively adhering to the new timings, it will be continued throughout the peak pollution months,” Ghalot said.
The government, the traffic police and transport department have begun a survey to identify major choke points and congested arterial roads. “Delhi has multiple choke points because they are on routes to offices where a large number of people travel every day. We will identify such points and routes and explore possibilities of staggering hours for those who use such arterial routes,” the chief minister said in a statement.
Gahlot said busy markets such as Sarojini Nagar, Lajpat Nagar, Karol Bagh and even a few industrial areas have already been identified. “The CM himself expressed the desire to bring industry associations on board since industrial areas can also implement the staggered hours plan,” he said.
OP Agarwal, CEO of World Resources Institute (WRI) India, and a former head of the urban transport division of the central government, said staggered office timings cannot be a success if implemented as a blanket rule across the city. Agarwal was called by the CM to attend the meeting on Monday as an expert.
“It will work only if it is location-specific. This means if say, the busy ITO area has to be decongested, then offices located there have to have different work timings. This is what I suggested to the Delhi government,” he said.
Peak hours in Delhi are considered from 8-11 am and 5-9 pm and traffic during these hours moves at snail’s pace on most arterial roads. Agarwal said that in Delhi, an additional peak hour has emerged from 2pm to about 3 pm, which is the time when schools get over.
Monday’s meeting on the issue was the second held by the Delhi government ever since Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal on September 25 met Kejriwal and suggested enforcing staggered office timings in the city.