The third edition of the odd-even road rationing rule implemented due to poor air quality in Delhi ended on Friday with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal saying a decision on extending it further will be taken on November 18. The anti-pollution measure kicked-in on November 4 as the city’s air quality reached the "severe" category.
The number of challans issued for violations of the rule during nine days, excluding Sunday, was comparatively less this time than its previous editions. A total of 4,885 violators were fined this time. The violators were fined Rs 4,000 each.
The odd-even rule was lifted on November 11 and 12 to ensure hassle-free commute on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev. The scheme was first introduced from January 1-15, 2016 and implemented again from April 15-30 in the same year. The rule was exempted on two Sundays each in the first two editions.
A total of 10,021 and 7,300 challans were issued in the first two editions, respectively. The fine for violation of the scheme was earlier Rs 2,000, which has been hiked as per the amended Motor Vehicle Act. The dip in the number of violations this year has been ascribed to higher compliance by Delhi motorists, by the AAP government.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia claimed that people were “religiously” following the odd-even rule. However, the opposition BJP and Congress termed it an election stunt by the Kejriwal government ahead of the assembly polls, and questioned its efficacy in reducing pollution.
BJP MP Vijay Goel went on to the extent of violating the rule on its first day and paying a fine in protest. Asked if odd-even proved effective, Kejriwal said the scheme is a measure to tackle local sources of pollution such as dust and vehicular emissions.
“On an average, 30 lakh cars ply on Delhi’s roads every day. It certainly helps if the number is reduced to half... But the primary reason for the spike in pollution (in winters) is stubble burning in neighbouring states,” he said, adding that NASA’s satellite imagery also establishes this.
The government deployed over 700 private buses during the road rationing rule to boost public transport. Also, hundreds of teams of traffic police, transport and revenue department were deployed for implementation of the scheme.
Thousands of trained civil defence volunteers were also stationed at road crossings to create awareness and help traffic police. Under the rule, non-transport vehicles having odd and even last digits in registration number ply on odd and even dates, respectively.
As many as 29 categories of vehicles including those of the President of India, Prime Minister, women drivers, school children in uniform, patients, emergency, enforcement and embassies were exempted. However, CNG vehicles, allowed in the earlier two editions, were not exempted this time. The cab aggregators had said that they will not resort to surge pricing to strengthen Delhi government’s fight against air pollution.