The Delhi government Tuesday held consultations with various women’s organisations, seeking their opinion on whether women drivers should be exempted in the second phase of the odd-even scheme. The scheme is set to begin on April 15.
Stating that they wanted the exemption, majority of the women said they do not feel safe travelling by public transport at night. They added that they have other responsibilities, such as picking up their children from school and running errands, besides work. Transport Minister Gopal Rai, who was present at the consultations, said their opinions will be put forth to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
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Kejriwal has called a cabinet meeting with the odd-even coordination committee Wednesday to take a final decision.
FICCI representative Archana Gupta said as there are very few women drivers in the capital compared to men, exempting them would not make any major difference to the air quality. Not exempting them would cause more trouble to working women who have several chores to complete, she said.
Kalpana Viswanath, of NGO Jagori, said the exemption is required for now as there is a dearth of safe public transport. “But it could be done away with in the long run,” she said.
Noor Zahir of National Federation of Indian Women, Delhi, was also in favour of the exemption. “Women have so many chores to finish apart from work. They pick up and drop their children in school, shop for groceries and do many other tasks. If a woman has to travel to work by public transport, she may not be able to look after herself or the family. Likewise, a housewife too might need to take her children to several classes after school. Public transport will not come in handy in such a situation,” said Zahir.
However, some women were against the exemption. Bharti Sharma of NGO Shakti Vahini, and former CWC chairperson, supported no exemption for women. “Air quality is bad for children too. Foreign dignitaries are afraid to come to Delhi on posting. The government should associate odd-even with the environment,” she suggested.
The Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) has also written to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, stating that in a survey conducted by the commission, 208 people wanted the exemption while just 18 were against it. DCW chief Swati Maliwal said, “Allowing women to ferry her family members would give them an upper hand in the family…”
Both the DCW and AAP MLA Alka Lamba supported the suggestion that if women are driving their husbands or family members to work, they should be exempted from the scheme.