No change in odd-even exemptions: Kailash Gahlot
The transport minister says public transport system still not ‘robust’ to take additional load during the scheme.Updated: Sep 18, 2019 00:22 IST
Two-wheelers and women will continue to be exempted from the odd-even road rationing scheme that will be rolled out from November 4 to 15, the Delhi government said on Tuesday.
The decision comes four days after chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday announced the third edition of the odd-even drive as part of Delhi government’s seven-point action plan to control pollution caused by stubble burning in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana. At that time, Kejriwal had not given clarity on those who will be exempted from the scheme.
On Tuesday, transport minister Kailash Gahlot said the government does not intend to change the list of exemptions for the upcoming road rationing scheme owing to lack of a robust public transport system in Delhi.
“Any changes at this juncture will lead to chaos on city roads. Exempting two-wheelers for the odd-even drive is not thinkable at this moment. Even if we get, say, 6,000 buses by November, our public transport still won’t be able to take the load,” said Gahlot.
“So, the exemptions will be kept the same as the previous drives,” he added.
Against the requirement of at least 10,000 buses, Delhi currently has only 5,454 buses. The government is hoping that by the time the scheme is rolled out, it will be able to add about 250 more new buses to its fleet. The rest, the minister said, will be hired during the drive.
Gahlot also stated that the question of revising the exemptions does not arise as the Supreme Court in September last year had stayed an order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) which asked the government to include two-wheelers and women-driven vehicles in the odd-even scheme. The NGT, while issuing the order in December 2017, had said such a relaxation would defeat the purpose of the scheme.
Exemptions under earlier odd-even stints in January and April, 2016 had generated a lot of controversy with VIPs, women drivers, CNG vehicles and disabled kept out of the purview of the scheme.
Two-wheelers, which constitute over 7.3 million of the over 11.09 million registered vehicles in Delhi, were also exempted from the last two drives. The number of registered four-wheelers in the city stands at around 3.4 million.
Experts, however, continued to demand for minimum
exemptions for the scheme to be effective.
“Engines of two-wheelers release more pollutants than four-wheelers. If these vehicles are not included in the scheme, the impact of the drive on the air-quality would be negligible. As assembly elections are approaching, it seems the government doesn’t want to take any risk. It is mindful of its popularity and
vote bank,” said Ravinder Kumar, principal scientist, transportation and planning division of Central Road Research Institute (CRRI).
When it comes to vehicles driven by women, the transport minister said the government would run awareness campaigns to convince people to voluntarily follow the odd-even drive. “By then, buses will be free for women, so, we will request them to comply with the drive as and when they can,” said Gahlot.
First Published: Sep 17, 2019 23:21 IST