Delhiites divided over government’s car rationing measure

New Delhi : As Delhi government ‘s car rationing experiment came into force on New Year’s Day today, it evoked a mixed response, with some welcoming it, and others flouting the rules.

Under the odd-even initiative, fuel-based private vehicles with odd and even numbers will run on alternate days, even numbered vehicles on even dates and odd numbered on odd dates, on a trial basis for a fortnight beginning Friday.

The car rationing will not apply on Sundays. Through the ambitious measure, the government hopes to bring down vehicular emissions – arguably one of the largest causes of air pollution in the city – by half.

A driver, Rohit Sharma, was delighted to see fewer cars on Delhi’s congested roads.

“There has been no problem so far. We are going to Jaipur and the flow of traffic has been very smooth so far,” said Sharma. “Yes, there is very less traffic on the roads today,” added Sharma.

In order to ensure that the car rationing initiative has a smooth run, 3,000 buses have been added to the fleet of Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and the frequency of the metro trains has been increased.

However some chose to car pool in order to avoid the public transport rush.

A commuter, Ravindra Nath Singh, backed the car pooling idea.

“I would want everybody to turn to car pooling. It is a very interesting way of travelling, when you travel in a group it does not get boring as you can chat on the way, you reduce pollution and save petrol. It is a great thing and it is not difficult to adopt,” said Singh.

VVIPs, police; paramilitary forces; emergency services like ambulances, fire brigade, women drivers, CNG driven cars and two wheelers et cetera, would be exempted from the new rule.

About 200 teams of police personnel have been deployed across the city to fine errant drivers. A fine of 2,000 rupees ($30.30) will be imposed on offenders and though vehicles will not be seized, they will be asked to go back home.

However, the heavy fine did not deter all as some still came out roads with their even numbered vehicles.

One of the first to be fined, Mridul Yadav, said that Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had only created a problem for Delhi residents by enforcing the car rationing initiative.

“I have to pay the fine, what other option do I have? Mr. Kejriwal has created a big problem for us,” said Yadav. “I knew it but I had some urgent work. It is unlikely (that I will stick to the rule) as all my cars have an even registration number. I can’t help it,” he added.

Another errant driver, Vijendra Aggarwal, said that this measure was bound to fail as it caused inconvenience to people.

“I do not think that this odd-even formula will be successful. How can it be successful? Either a person should have two cars each with an odd and even registration number otherwise what will a person with one car do?” said Aggarwal.

High pollution levels have worried environmentalists, public and the authorities in the city of 16 million people, which the World Health Organisation (WHO) last year said had the worst air quality in the world. India rejected the report’s findings.

According to the WHO report, India is home to 13 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities in the world, including Delhi.

Experts say the city needed a permanent ban on diesel cars, which are seen as polluting, and other measures to reduce spiralling vehicle emissions. Campaigners are calling for steps like a parking cess and an annual tax on all cars.

Initiatives to clean up Delhi’s air have hit roadblocks in the past. A directive this year to ban all vehicles older than 15 years has been delayed and previous city governments have often ignored court orders to address pollution woes. (ANI)