Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal Monday held a meeting to review the ‘lessons learnt’ from the 15-day odd-even vehicle operations, a green initiative introduced in Delhi on January 1.
Taking stock of operations during the first phase, two main concerns emerged during the meeting — commuting by school children and the possibility of people buying another car to circumvent the restrictions.
While the first phase of the scheme was enforced during school holidays, in the second phase, the government is looking at resolving the question of parents dropping and picking up children from school in their private cars.
“We have asked a committee to find a solution to this problem. Some suggestions have come today but we need more. One suggestion was that these parents should be exempted but identifying them will be very difficult. The other suggestion was that there should be exemption from 1 pm to 3 pm but controlling that will also be difficult. This is a serious concern. We will wait for the committee’s report before we take a decision,” said Transport Minister Gopal Rai.
While most people followed the scheme, Rai said, many may think about buying a second car so that they can drive on all days. He cited the example of Mexico where this happened on a large scale after the odd-even scheme was enforced. “..If we prevent people in Delhi from buying a second car, cars can come from neighbouring states. This has to be addressed,” said Rai.
Rai added, “These issues are before all the departments and they will deliberate on it. The chief minister will set a time frame for them to submit their reports. Once these concerns are addressed, the duration of the next phase of odd-even will be determined.”
Rai said the government has not taken a decision on when the next phase will be enforced. The exempted categories in the first phase are likely be reconsidered. However, two-wheelers may continue to be exempted. The penalty of Rs 2,000 for violations may also remain unchanged.
Sources said that while the odd-even scheme was a measure to control pollution, the government was also told about periods when pollution levels spike in Delhi. Based on analysis of five year ambient air data, the government was informed that there are three ‘peak times’ during the year when air pollution is at its worst. These are the May-June (the fortnight starting last week of May), the similar time in October and November and the last week of December stretching upto the second week of January.
“The government has been provided the ambient air data from 2011 to 2015 that points out the peak times. The government will analyse it and independently decide whether or not the odd-even scheme should be enforced during these times,” said a source.
The civil defence volunteers engaged during the 15-day odd-even trial and the cost of vehicles used by SDMs also checking cars for odd-even violations, will be paid through the Delhi Pollution Control Committee’s ambient air fund.
While the initial estimate of these costs was Rs 3.51 crore, Rs 25 lakh has been released by the DPCC. The rest will be disbursed after receiving bills from departments concerned.