No road rationing in Delhi’s odd-even for two-wheelers, cars on school run
For 11 days beginning November 4, private cars ending in odd numbers will be allowed on the roads only on odd-numbered dates, while cars ending in even numbers will be allowed only on the others – the third instalment of a plan popularly called ‘odd-even’.Updated: Oct 18, 2019 05:26 IST
The Delhi government fixed the final set of rules on Thursday for next month’s odd-even road rationing restrictions, extending exemptions to women drivers, people taking their children to schools, and those on two-wheelers as it sought to strike a balance between a plan that is feasible as well as effective in reducing pollution.
For 11 days beginning November 4, private cars ending in odd numbers will be allowed on the roads only on odd-numbered dates, while cars ending in even numbers will be allowed only on the others – the third instalment of a plan popularly called ‘odd-even’.
This period is likely to coincide with the worst of the pollution from farm fires in neighbouring states, where farmers on Thursday admitted they will have little time this year to clear fields in any other manner.
“All petrol, diesel, CNG and hybrid private four-wheelers will have to follow the odd-even drive which will be effective from Monday to Saturday from 8am to 8pm. Private cars coming from other states will also have to follow the rule,” Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said.
The restrictions will not be in place on a Sunday that falls in between the period, the CM said, adding that the fine this year for violations will be ₹4,000 – double of what was imposed when odd-even was last imposed in April, 2016.
Much of the exemptions are the same as they were in 2016, with one exception being that private cars running on CNG are covered this year under the restriction. Several experts have said the number of exemptions is too high for the plan to make significant impact in terms of curtailing emissions, but have also said the current state of public transport will be unable to cope with the load if all two-wheelers are banned.
“It will have to be enforced well. Keeping two-wheelers out of the ambit of the programme will weaken the impact of the scheme. According to an IIT Kanpur study, two-wheelers contribute nearly one-third of the total particulate load from vehicles. It is important to minimise exemptions,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director (research and advocacy), Centre for Science and Environment.
“With 7.3 million two-wheelers in Delhi and more than a lakh crossing daily, the sheer volume is humongous. Even after adding 2,000 private buses, the city’s public transport system won’t be able to take the load,” Kailash Gahlot, Delhi’s transport minister, said on Tuesday.
Odd-even was first introduced in 2016, the year when the Capital recorded its worst smog in 17 years. Pollution has since become an annual crisis that strikes in the winter and pre-winter months, earning Delhi the label of a “gas chamber” and compelling authorities to come up with an emergency action plan that includes a ban on construction, heavy vehicles and gensets if the air becomes too toxic.
As a matter of routine, vehicular exhaust, road dust and billowing sand from thousands of construction sites fill Delhi’s air unless there are strong winds or rain. In transition from monsoon to winter, the winds calm down – and the situation is made worse by smoke from farm fires in Punjab and Haryana.
On Thursday, a senior functionary of a key farmer union said this year may be marked by more farm fires due to a monsoon that began and ended later than usual. “Sowing got delayed this year because of late monsoon onset and harvest is also late because it was raining in September. The peak harvest season will begin next week after which there will be a lot of stubble burning,” said Harinder Singh Lakhowal, general secretary of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) in Punjab.
Farmers set fire to stubble that is left behind after paddy is harvested using machines, and the quickest way to clear the fields has been to set fire to the remnants. Farmers typically need to finish sowing winter crops by mid-November.
With a shorter window this year, Lakhowal said there will also be a shortage of harvesting machines. “Machinery hasn’t reached farmers. Only 6,000 farmers have got stubble management machinery but there are 30,000 villages. One machine is available for 4-5 villages and the sowing time is so short so farmers will have to burn stubble,” he said.
All-women vehicles or women drivers with children below the age of 12 as co-passengers will also be exempted, and vehicles carrying unwell people will also be allowed on “trust basis”, Kejriwal added.
The CM said he and other ministers and officers of the Delhi government will not be exempted from odd-even.
The list of exempted people include the President, vice president, Prime Minister, Union ministers, Lok Sabha speaker, deputy chairman of Rajya Sabha, leaders of Opposition in both Houses, governors including the Delhi L-G, chief justices and judges of the Supreme Court and the Delhi high court.
“Emergency, enforcement, defence, paramilitary and embassy vehicles will also be exempted,” the chief minister said.
On a plan to stagger office timings during the drive, Kejriwal said an expert appointed to prepare the feasibility report is yet to submit a report. “We will come back on this next week,” he said.