Delhi gears up to implement odd-even with 100 new buses, 5,000 volunteers
Under the odd-even scheme, private cars with registration numbers ending in an odd digit or even digit are prohibited from plying on the road between 8am and 8pm on even dates and odd dates, respectively, on weekdays.Updated: Oct 23, 2019 04:50 IST
The Delhi government will engage 5,000 civil defence volunteers for the third edition of the odd-even road space and vehicle rationing plan that will take off November 4. Around 500 of these volunteers are likely to be retained and further engaged as environment marshals, senior government officials said Tuesday.
The government has set aside ₹5 crore for the civil defence volunteers’ emolument, the officials added.
Under the odd-even scheme, private cars with registration numbers ending in an odd digit or even digit are prohibited from plying on the road between 8am and 8pm on even dates and odd dates, respectively, on weekdays. Through the environment marshal scheme, the Delhi government intends to keep a check on local sources of pollution, primarily on burning of garbage in the open.
Both schemes are part of chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s 7-point winter plan to fight air pollution in Delhi. Both schemes are likely to take off on November 4. While the odd-even plan will end on November 15, the environment marshal scheme will continue till end of February, senior officials in Delhi’s environment department said.
Under both schemes, the civil defence volunteers will have the same roles – to identify violation of rules, raise awareness, engage with people, convince them into not violating the rules and report instances of violations, if any, to the environment department.
Under the environment marshal scheme, civil defence volunteers will be deployed in each of Delhi’s 272 municipal wards, officials said.
The concept of environment marshals is akin to the Smog Police of Beijing, deployed in early 2017. But unlike their Chinese counterparts, the environment marshals in Delhi will not have any legal power to detain any person who violates the pollution rules.
Delhi has witnessed deployment of environment marshals in 2018 too, but the marshals engaged in the previous scheme were home guards, who are slightly more trained in certain areas related to public order and guarding public places.
But the previous two editions of odd-even scheme in 2016 involved civil defence volunteers deployed on roads.
While the Delhi government has recently announced recruitment of 5,500 home guards, the fresh recruits along with the 3,000 existing home guards are all likely to be deployed in Delhi’s buses from October 29, when the scheme of free ride for women takes off.
Officials in the environment department said, the last environment marshals scheme had turned out to be effective but it had to be stopped abruptly due to shortage of staff and enforcement issues.
Government records showed, 83 home guards had flagged around 10,000 cases in 2018 between January 1 and September 30.
According to Dipankar Saha, former additional director of the Central Pollution Control Board, engaging environment marshals across the city is a welcome move.
“In the winters, Delhi turns into a high-pressure pollution zone and it becomes extremely important to control local sources of pollution at the ground level. It is time, the government encourages every resident of Delhi to become an environment marshal,” he said.