Monday mornings and smooth traffic have rarely been on an ‘even’ plane in the national capital. The oddity was hard to miss on the first Monday of the year as the Delhi government’s odd-even car rationing policy worked almost effortlessly sans strict enforcement and expected traffic snarls. That Delhi is toeing the line all by itself was hard to ignore on a 127-km drive across the city’s otherwise congested stretches. Monday was an even-numbered day.
Impassive civil defence volunteers and hard-to-spot police deployment across busy traffic intersections notwithstanding, a random count of odd-numbered cars by this correspondent did not go cross 22, of which one was being driven by a woman.
Around noon, at the Chirag Delhi traffic intersection, Abhishek Kumar, a civil defence volunteer, waited in vain to spot an odd-numbered car. Almost an hour after he had handed out the last of his eight roses to be given to violators, he spots one more waiting for the traffic light to turn green.
He elbows his companion to offer the latter’s last yellow spring flower, who sprints across the road determined to embarrass the driver. “We cannot deny that most commuters are following it by themselves. Just eight violators over the past four hours at such a busy intersection is not a very bad score, is it?” he smiles, now only waiting for his shift to end by 3 pm when another volunteer will take his place.
“Now that we have run out of flowers, we are only going up to the violators requesting them to go back home and leave their cars behind. Their conscience should tell them to follow the rule,” insists Abhishek, a second-year college student, aspiring for a government job.
“I do not own a car and so I am not the best person to say that it is easy to let go of the comfort of a private vehicle. But this is the least we can do for our next generation. On my part I decided to volunteer as part of the enforcement team. In the last three days, it has been encouraging to see Delhi set the trend.”
A little ahead on the soon-to-be-scrapped BRT stretch traffic continues to flow smoothly. An easy drive on the otherwise choked sections at Lajpat Nagar and Pragati Maidan reiterated Delhi was doing it right until one reached ITO — one of the few traffic intersections within the heart of the city with a heavy police as well as civil defence volunteer deployment.
Violators were intercepted either with challans or flowers stalling traffic, leading to snarls.
West Delhi recorded 123 challans by the sub-divisional magistrate’s enforcement team, a close second to South Delhi with a total of 150 challans. Both areas remained as clear as all of North Delhi, including the infamous bottlenecks at Azadpur, Model Town and Delhi University.
The nearly signal-free GT Karnal Road was perhaps the only stretch to throw up most of the odd-numbered cars on a single road, possibly used by commuters hoping to bypass the city undetected.
The 1,040 challans by Delhi Traffic Police and another 766 by the SDMs across the city Monday could roughly be attributed to offenders intercepted at entry points to Delhi and the pile-up on the DND Flyway from Noida to Delhi late in the evening.