Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia Wednesday met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh at the latter’s office in North Block and sought cooperation from the Centre and Delhi Police for the odd-even number scheme that the Delhi government is planning to implement on private cars to ease pollution.
While Kejriwal told media personnel that he received “a very positive response” from Singh on the issue, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has asked the Delhi administration to take nine specific points into consideration before finalising its plan.
“We had a very good meeting with the home minister. Two issues were discussed. One was of the odd and even number scheme, which would be tried out from January 1 to January 15. We informed him about what we have thought of so far, and there was a very positive response from Rajnath Singh, for which we are very grateful. He said that the Centre and the Delhi Police would provide their full support,” Kejriwal told reporters after the meeting that lasted for nearly 45 minutes.
“He (Singh) had some concerns and we told him we were thinking about them, such as exemption in case a patient is in the car, or when a single woman is driving… in cases of emergencies. He flagged such issues, and we told him we would sort them out and discuss the plan with him again. There was a very positive response from him,” said Kejriwal.
Elaborating on these concerns, the MHA said in a statement that Singh, “expressed his concern especially with regard to the aged, the children and other vulnerable persons, and expressed the need to take necessary steps to reduce the level of pollution in the NCR region. He pointed out that it is the poor who bear the brunt of pollution. The home minister stated that the central government would cooperate in implementing the proposed scheme and would ask Delhi Police to enforce it in the best possible manner”.
The MHA has asked the Kejriwal government to factor in the needs of the handicapped and consider exemptions for vehicles handling emergencies, vehicles used by women driving alone and two-wheelers. “The home minister reminded the chief minister that 57 lakh out of 88 lakh vehicles (65 per cent) registered in Delhi are two-wheelers,” said the statement.
The ministry also advised the government to ensure that those who own two cars do not misuse the scheme and stressed on the “need for Delhi government to install a large number of CCTVs, since the effective monitoring of the scheme will require substantial technological support”.
Singh also suggested that the Delhi government must think of “long-term” solutions to combat pollution.
On criticism that the Delhi government had not done its homework before announcing the scheme, Kejriwal responded, “One option was to keep doing our homework for two or three years and our children would have kept dying or coughing till then. Even I would continue coughing.. The other option was to take a decision with everyone, try it out for 15 days and learn from it and do it again.”
He added that while government cars would not be exempted from the scheme, vehicles such as fire tenders and police cars would be.
Meanwhile, Delhi government sources said that there is a possibility that the Lieutenant Governor and Union ministers may be exempted from the scheme, but Delhi ministers would abide by it.