Delhi Odd-Even Rule: Why We Need To Stop Whining Without Looking Into Facts

The Delhi Government led by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal recently announced their plan to implement odd-even scheme for traffic from January 2016. This huge step has been taken in wake of the frightening air pollution levels of the national capital. According to the recent data released by World Health Organization (WHO), New Delhi has the worst Air Quality among 1600 major cities of the world, including Karachi, and Beijing.

The seemingly rising air pollution has had its toll on the health of Delhites, damaging lungs and respiratory tracts of more than 20 lakh children, permanently. The situation is very alarming, and instead of fretting over the issue we should appreciate whatever little steps the Government is undertaking to tackle this problem. True that this has never been done in our country, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a try. Kejriwal, in a recent release, stated that if complications arise, the rule will be disbanded. Even the High Court has refused to bring a stay on the rule saying, “Let government try it.”

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The Odd-Even scheme won’t completely resolve the pollution problem, but at the least, will help in curbing its rise. Also there are other benefits, such as the traffic problem which has been a headache for Delhites will reduce, people will steer towards public transport such as Buses and Metro, increasing revenue, as 6000 new buses are scheduled to join the fleet of Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) coming January. Next, if the formula succeeds in the national capital which has over 90 lakh registered vehicles (27 lakh cars) with 1500 new ones being added everyday, it will be much easier to implement it in other major cities such as Mumbai, Bangalore, etc. and even if it doesn’t, we will have learnt the lessons so as to where things went wrong.

Let’s look into some facts pertaining to this rule:

  • Odd number plates will be allowed on odd dates (1, 3, 5,..) and even number plates on even dates. Zero will be considered as even.
  • Will be applicable from 8am to 8pm from Monday to Saturday. Sundays are exempted.
  • Vehicles driven by women without any passengers also will be exempted.
  • This rule will be applicable to all ministries and bureaucrats in the National Capital Region (NCR).
  • The trial run will last from 1st January to 15th January of 2016 and after feedback from citizens, further course will be decided.

This system for Odd-Even vehicle restriction is new to India, but globally it has been successfully in practice for a long period, dating back to the era of Julius Caeser who declared the center of Rome off-limits between 6 a.m. and 4 p.m. to all vehicles except for carriages transporting priests, officials, visitors, and high ranking citizens.

In Beijing, temporary driving restrictions were imposed from 8 to 10 December 2015 as a measure to mitigate the red alert for hazardous smog. The smog alert system was put in place in 2013, and a red alert should go into effect if there is a prediction that the air quality index will stay over 200 for more than 72 hours. Cars with only even number plates were allowed on the first day of restriction. Electric cars were exempted as an incentive to promote the use of cleaner vehicles.

Partial driving restriction was imposed in Paris on March 17, 2014 to check the peak rise in air pollution caused by particulate matter. Complementary measures were implemented including reduced speed limits in the city, free public transportation, free residential parking, and free short-term use for subscribers of bike and car-sharing services.

There are some demerits too, but for now let’s look at the brighter side of the picture and hope for such solutions from the Central Government as well, on a national level.

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