DELHI CHIEF Minister Arvind Kejriwal said today that he was “overwhelmed” by the “success” of the first day of the AAP government’s 15-day odd-even pilot programme to curb vehicular pollution in the capital.
Kejriwal, who joined the initiative by carpooling to work, said, “By and large, the people of Delhi have accepted the anti-pollution drive with an open mind. This can happen only when something becomes a people’s movement. I am truly overwhelmed by the response. The people of Delhi are terrific. They have achieved the impossible and I am hopeful that Delhi will scale greater heights in the days to come. Delhi will lead the way.”
Kejriwal also gave Transport Minister Gopal Rai, and PWD and Health Minister Satyendar Jain a ride to the Delhi Secretariat in his Innova. Jain later praised the “self-regulation” observed by motorists, saying that less than 1 per cent violations were reported on Friday.
The Delhi government also claimed that pollution levels had reduced across stations, but experts pointed out that the dip was only seen during the first half of the day in many stations.
A combination of weather factors and emissions probably led to a spike in the second half, experts said.
“Maybe the drop in pollution level was little. But when two cars ply instead of four, however little it may be, there will be a drop,” said Rai.
Rai, who was responsible of augmenting public transport during the pilot phase, took a two-hour ride in a DTC bus, asking the driver to stop outside the BJP headquarters on Ashoka Road to check the registration numbers of the cars parked outside. “They were all odd numbers,” he said.
While the government did not hesitate to term Day One a “success”, it admitted that the holiday season may have been a contributor to the smooth sailing of traffic. The real test of the drive, the administration agreed, would be on January 4, the first working Monday of the year.
Delhi’s bureaucrats may have ended the year on an unpleasant note after about 150 DANICS officers went on mass leave to protest the suspension of two of their colleagues on Thursday, but they showed their willingness to be a part of the odd-even scheme.
A senior IAS officer said he would use his official car on odd dates and his private even number car on even dates. However, he said, he will carpool giving rides to as many people as possible.
Until 5 pm on Friday, the traffic police had issued 81 challans for odd-even violations while the Delhi government’s transport department officials had issued 36.
“Of the 4,500 buses we have, 4,120 buses were deployed. Of the 3,000 private buses registered, 1,221 turned up today,” Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) Public Relations Officer R S Minhas said.
Some private schools moved court protesting against the circular issued by the Delhi government asking them to shift their winter break timings and provide their buses for commercial public use in the odd-even fortnight.
“Most of the school buses did not turn up today,” Minhas said. However, there was low commuter traffic on buses across the city on Friday.
Over 200 challans were issued to autorickshaw drivers who refused fare or harassed passengers, Rai said. The World Health Organisation had last year named Delhi, with an estimated 7.5 million registered vehicles, as the world’s most polluted city.
How the CM began his day
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s new year started with seasons greetings from Delhi government officials, MLAs and children from a playschool in Yamuna Vihar visiting his Flagstaff Road residence in North Delhi. Simultaneously, he also got a heads up on the the odd-even vehicle operations that started at 8 am Friday.
Two-and-half hours after the policy for private cars kicked-in, Kejriwal said the people of Delhi had welcomed the government’s green intervention with open arms.
Clad in a beige V-neck sweater on the nippy morning, he then left for the residence of transport minister Gopal Rai, who along with PWD and health minister Satyendar Jain, carpooled with the CM to the Delhi Secretariat.
Rai and Jain, who also live in Civil Lines, close to Kejriwal’s residence, waited on Rai’s lawn for the chief minister’s car to arrive. After exchanging new year’s greetings, Kejriwal moved to the backseat of his Innova number 0001, letting Rai sit in the front. “Am pooling my car n going to office with 2 ministers, my PS and my Joint Secy,” Kejriwal tweeted.
How other ministers got to work
Transport Minister Gopal Rai carpooled with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. As his car is even-numbered, he has said he will give a ride to whoever needs it Saturday.
Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia drove to the secretariat in his odd-numbered car. He will cycle to work Tuesday.
Environment Minister Imran Hussein arrived in an e-rickshaw from Chandni Chowk and appealed to people to use this “eco-friendly mode of transport to travel”.
Tourism and Culture Minister Kapil Mishra rode his motorcycle to work
Women and Child Development Minister Sandeep Kumar took a DTC bus to the Secretariat from ISBT Kashmere Gate.