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Centre assures full support to odd-even scheme: Kejriwal

New Delhi: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today assured Arvind Kejriwal of full assistance in enforcing the odd-even scheme in the city from January 1 even as the Delhi Chief Minister indicated that women driving alone may be kept out of its ambit.

In a meeting that lasted around 40 minutes in North Block, Kejriwal apprised Singh of details of the proposed restrictions for plying of private vehicles. The chief minister later described Singh’s response as “very positive”.

However, Singh flagged a host of concerns over the issue pertaining to exempting vehicles carrying patients, disabled persons, or being driven by working women and those driving alone, and two-wheelers.

“He (Singh) said the Centre and Delhi Police will fully support the move. He raised few concerns which we said are being mulled over like exempting patients, single woman or if a woman is driving alone how to ensure her safety. They could and may be exempted with other cases of emergency as per the viewpoint that is emerging,” Kejriwal told reporters.

Government sources said that the final blueprint of the proposal may have significant changes and that the decision may go in the favour of women.

The Home Minister further underscored that 57 lakh out of 88 lakh vehicles (65 per cent) registered in Delhi are two- wheelers. Meanwhile, Kejriwal said that “official vehicles will also be covered” under the odd-even number plate policy.

“The Home Minister stated that the government of India would cooperate in implementing the proposed scheme and would ask Delhi Police to enforce it in the best possible manner,” an official statement from the North Block said.

“I will follow, my ministers will follow. We will go for car pooling. Some ministers live near my house and we will follow that I think that is the only practical solution to the problem. Our officers will do it,” Kejriwal later said at a book launch function.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Delhi Home Minister Satyendar Jain were also present in the meeting where Kejriwal raised the issue of installation of CCTV cameras across Delhi as well.

“We will be needing the police’s help in the case of CCTV cameras as well because ultimately the feed will go directly to them. The issue is in Delhi High Court now and there is needless bickering. We will together work this out,” Kejriwal said.

Asked whether his government was diluting the scheme in the face of criticism as it did not have a well-prepared scheme, Kejriwal said, “We had one option that we would continue doing homework for the next two years even as children would continue to die and cough. I would continue to cough as well.”

The city government on Friday, in a radical step to curb air pollution, had announced that private vehicles bearing odd and even registration numbers will be allowed to ply only on alternate days starting January 1.
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Speaking at the book launch, Kejriwal said his government first thought of banning or controlling movement of vehicles not now but after one and a half years. But the situation is “really very bad now” and there is a lot of nervousness among the public, he said.

Earlier, expressing concern over the growing levels of pollution not only in Delhi but in the entire NCR region, Singh stressed on the need to improve public transportation and to make it capable of taking the load of “half the number of persons” currently travelling in cars daily.

Singh also urged Kejriwal to guard against the possibility of misuse of the odd-even scheme by the rich, “who can afford two or more vehicles”, putting at disadvantage only the relatively less well-off.

There has to be a clear policy on the visitors from nearby towns such as Chandigarh, Ambala, Rohtak, Alwar, Rewari and close coordination with other towns in the NCR to encourage them to follow a similar policy, Singh told Kejriwal.

The Union Home Minister also advised the Delhi government to look at long-term solutions and examine the feasibility of phasing out non-CNG vehicles, taxing the CNG vehicles at a rate significantly higher than the rate of tax on hybrid vehicles, and check the feasibility of converting, in a phased manner, petrol or diesel pumps into CNG pumps.