THANKING THE people, police and government of Delhi for their role in implementing the 15-day odd-even drive to curb vehicular pollution that ended on Friday, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the administration would re-introduce the scheme in an “improved form”.
In a tweet on Friday night, Kejriwal wrote: “Proud of u Delhi. U give me confidence ‘Together, we can achieve anything’. 1st phase of Odd Even ends today. Will do again in improved form.”
Kejriwal had earlier urged people to continue the scheme voluntarily, even though it officially ended at 8 pm on Friday. “I would request you not to give up the good habits that you have developed. From tomorrow, there will be no fine of Rs 2,000, but please keep this going voluntarily. Please continue with it because this is a question of our lives, our health, our children and our city,” said Kejriwal.
The private car-rationing scheme was introduced by the Aam Aadmi Party government on January 1 as a pilot initiative. On Friday, Kejriwal said he would hold a review meeting on January 18 with government departments to understand “the lessons learnt and what preparations we need to make when we start this again in the future”.
“The last 15 days were a great experience. I would like to congratulate the people of Delhi. We often hear people say that people in the US and Singapore are very good and law-abiding but not Indians. But this has shown that the people of India are very good,” said Kejriwal.
“No government tried to engage with its people like this before. This was the first time. People supported and followed the rule. People of Delhi are terrific when governance is taken out of the secretariat. They have set an example for the world,” he said.
Satyendar Jain, the nodal minister for the AAP government’s pollution control measures, said that with the end of the odd-even initiative, the government can now focus on other measures of air pollution control. He said that 48 construction sites were sanctioned for dust violations in this span, with 42 being challaned again.
“We will urge the National Green Tribunal to revise the fines on construction sites. The fine of Rs 50,000 may be reduced for smaller sites but it should be increased to upto Rs 5 lakh for large construction sites,” said Jain.
He also said that the PWD had issued tenders for vacuum cleaners and that vacuum cleaning of roads will start on April 1.
Transport Minister Gopal Rai said pollution data received over the last 15 days showed there was a decline in PM 2.5 levels.
“Data over the last 15 days shows that in December the levels of PM 2.5, caused by vehicle pollution, was above 600. The most dangerous levels seen during the odd-even scheme at the permanent pollution monitoring centres were at an average of 400. There is independent data of the Centre for Science and Environment, too, that we submitted to the court. It showed that if there was no odd-even, the adverse weather in January would have also shown levels of 600,” Rai said.
Kejriwal added, “Pollution did decline but the most visible effect (of odd-even) was the decongestion of roads. Roads were empty and travel time was halved. This gave people more time to live their lives. There were no more traffic jams to irritate them. Many people are saying this should continue. They are ready to put up with the inconveniences.”
According to the Delhi government, DTC and other buses ran at a capacity of 53 lakh during odd-even operations instead of 46 lakh otherwise. The traffic police, transport department and sub-divisional magistrates issued 9,144 challans to violators during the drive up to Thursday. While 40,000 people downloaded the government’s Pooch-O app to book autorickshaws, 4,500 downloaded its carpooling app.