Odd-even 3.0: Govt will decide exemptions after consulting stakeholders
While the Delhi government Friday said it would, in a first, consult stakeholders to decide on “exemptions” for the third edition of the odd-even scheme, experts opined that keeping a high number of exemptions would dilute the purpose of the scheme meant to fight air pollution in the city.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal Friday announced that the odd-even vehicle rationing scheme will be implemented in the capital between November 4 and 15, after a gap of more than three years.
When the scheme was implemented in January and April 2016, the government had exempted women drivers; two-wheelers; emergency vehicles; and vehicles of chief ministers, Union ministers, political and legal dignitaries from the scheme.
Jasmine Shah, vice-chairperson of the Dialogue and Development Commission for Delhi, a planning and advisory body associated with the Delhi government, said the decision on “exemptions” is likely to be taken in the next 15 days.
“The government will engage with major stakeholders and take a call on drafting a list of exemptions. We have to make sure that every section can avail of adequate alternatives for transport when we implement the scheme,” Shah said.
However, experts pushed for minimum exemptions for the scheme to be effective.
Ravinder Kumar, principal scientist, transportation and planning division of Central Road Research Institute (CRRI), said in previous editions of the odd-even scheme, the initiative was not very successful owing to the exemptions in place, especially for two-wheelers, which amounts to about 7.3 million of the approximately 11 million registered vehicles in Delhi.
“If your aim is to reduce vehicular emissions, then exempting two-wheelers is going to defeat that purpose. Two-wheelers make up nearly half the city’s vehicular volume and their engines release more pollutants. The government kept them out mindful of “popularity or vote bank”. Whatever the reasoning was, it resulted in the plan not working out,” Kumar said.
In December 2017, the AAP government had attempted to roll out the scheme for a third time, but it failed to do so after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) refused to give any exemption to two-wheelers, saying such a relaxation would defeat the purpose of the scheme.
“It is undisputed before us that there are over 60 lakh two-wheelers in Delhi. The number also consists of two- wheelers which are quite old and their emissions are beyond prescribed limits,” an NGT bench had then said. But the Supreme Court later stayed the tribunal’s order.
During the last two drives, experts recalled that scores of women had voluntarily embraced the odd-even rule despite being exempted from it.
Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), said in Delhi, the number of women who use public transport and cabs is far more than those who drive. “There is no reason why women should get such a privilege when even the numbers don’t support such an exemption. Most women in Delhi either use public transport or cabs and a large section prefer to walk to their workplaces or for doing errands,” she said.
Residents associations in the city raised concerns about possible exemptions.
“There is no harm in bring the scheme back, as there is major reduction of traffic on key roads, which may slightly reduce pollution. After Diwali, the air is not breathable, especially for the elderly. If such a measure helps even marginally during this phase, it must be embraced, but without exemptions. If two-wheelers are exempted, it will defeat the purpose of the efforts made,” BS Vohra, president, federation of East Delhi RWAs, said.