A second fortnight of the odd-even road rationing scheme began Friday to combat air pollution, three months after the Delhi government’s ambitious intervention programme was launched. In round two, ex-servicemen with the power to book violators replaced school children with roses as the official stance on implementation shifted from awareness to enforcement.
On Friday, only cars with registration plates ending in an odd number could ply and fewer cars were visible on the roads for most of the day. Till 8 pm, Delhi police had booked 884 commuters for violating the odd-even rule. On January 1, when the scheme was first rolled out, police had booked 138 commuters between 8 am and 8 pm.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Sharad Agarwal said, “A total of 511 violators were challaned between 8 am and 1 pm, and 884 prosecuted till 8 pm. The highest number of challans was recorded in the southern part of the city, followed by west and central Delhi. Around a 100 persons were challaned in Lutyens’ Zone.”
To ensure implementation, police had chosen over 200 intersections in the city where 2,000 officials were deployed in teams of three to 10 depending upon the volume of traffic. While traffic was lighter than usual owing to Ram Navami, Transport Minister Gopal Rai said the response was positive. “I have reports from all over Delhi that people are following the scheme. The final picture will emerge after we receive reports from different departments,” said Rai, who also took a bus ride to assess implementation of the scheme.
The Delhi government is also monitoring air quality at 74 locations for the second phase of the scheme, including seven borders areas of Delhi. In these border areas, one sample will be taken inside Delhi (1-2 km), second sample at the border and the third 1-2 km inside neighbouring states. In addition, 20 residential locations of Delhi will be monitored using manual samplers.
However, the second rollout was not without snags after Delhi Metro services were affected early in the day when an overhead wire on the Red Line, that connects Dilshad Garden to Rithala, snapped at two points along the 23-km corridor. Passengers were also stranded in the premium Airport Express Line for around 25 minutes in the morning after the doors of a train developed a snag at the IGI airport station.
With scant traffic expected again on Saturday, experts believe Monday will pose a challenge as government offices and schools will reopen after a long weekend. Unlike, the first phase of the scheme, school buses will not be used for the general public. With a section of auto and taxi unions calling for a strike Monday, sources in the government admitted that bus and Metro services may be strained.
What people had to say when they were fined?
ITO: The first challan of the day was issued at ITO intersection in Central Delhi at about 9 am. The violator, a resident of Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh, was heading towards Uttarakhand. He claimed he was unaware of the norms, but police left him with little choice. The first violator on January 1 was also booked at ITO.
Moti Bagh: A traffic police assistant sub-inspector stopped a Hyundai i10 and informed the occupants about the odd-even scheme. The occupants who were heading to Noida to meet relatives began blaming the Delhi government, saying only rich people had two or three cars. “As a middle class family, it is impossible for us to afford two cars and we cannot take our aged parents in public transport,” said one of them. While nodding sympathetically, police fined them Rs 2,000.
ITO: The driver of an SX4 that belongs to a media house told policemen he was not aware a challan would be issued. “I was under the impression that traffic policemen would distribute flowers to those driving even-number cars on Day 1. Kejriwal sahab did not tell us,” the driver told police. He paid the Rs 2,000 fine after calling an employee from his office to bring the money.
Tilak Marg: The driver of a Mercedes-Benz flashed the victory sign with his right hand after paying a fine, while sitting inside the car. Soon after police stopped his car he was surrounded by the media. He claimed he knew about the rule, but forgot.
Kashmere Gate: Stopped, the driver of a Wagon-R tried to flaunt his connections in the media and judiciary. He quietened down after police said they would call the media. “Hum kya karen saheb ab to media wale samne hain” (We can’t do anything, now mediapersons are in front of you),” said an officer. The man made a few calls, but paid the fine in the end.
Raj Ghat: A man driving a Toyota Fortuner with a Haryana registration said, as he paid the fine, “Six of us have come to watch the (IPL) match. We wanted to enjoy the ride till here instead of travelling on the Metro, which many people were saying is not even working. Ek din ki toh bat hai (It’s a matter of one day).”
Outer Ring Road: A man driving an even-number Honda Accord said, “I am travelling with my son and he has just recovered from a knee injury. We did not want to take the Metro from Sultanpur to come for the match.” When he tried to negotiate, a constable told him, “Meri bhi duty hai, sir. Aap please fine bhar do (It’s my duty. Please pay the fine).”