The Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and the Transport Department’s control rooms were flooded with hundreds of calls from people from neighbouring states, who wanted to learn about the odd-even scheme and what they were supposed to do on Monday.
DTC staffers and transport officials have been clearing doubts about odd and even numbers, explaining who is exempt from the rule and the timings when it is in place.
At the command and control room in the DTC’s Millenium Depot, the six brand new black landlines kept ringing off the hook while the older yellowing MTNL landlines lay forlorn and silent on a nearby table. The new telephone sets were bought by DTC to cater to calls for the odd-even rule. The older ones are for official staff coordination.
Four officials have been assigned the task of answering calls. They work eight-hour shifts in three cycles through the day and into the night for the 24×7 helpline.
“This is the DTC’s official helpline. We usually receive calls from commuters who complain about late buses or drivers not stopping at a particular bus stop or refusing a passenger. Now, we have been receiving an average of 2,000 calls daily about odd and even numbers,” said Rohit, one of the attendants in the control room.
Just then the phone rang. Rohit answered the call — it was a senior citizen from Dwarka. “She said she had to go to a satsang (prayer service) and her car was odd-numbered. Her driver was sitting idle and she had to pay him a day’s salary for nothing. She was swearing at Kejriwal while we were trying to explain to her that it is for the sake of the environment and her health. But at the end of the day, it is we who take all the invective,” he said.
Another caller phoned in to ask what he must do on Monday as the last digit of his car was zero.
At the transport department’s challan control room in Noida, a caller from Greater Noida said he has to make daily trips to AIIMS. “Dont worry. You are exempt. Carry your medical documents because you might have to produce them,” a staffer reassured the distraught caller.
“Of the calls, 80 per cent are about doubts over odd-even rules, the rest about drivers refusing to stop the bus. A huge number of women have called to argue about how their drivers should be allowed to drive them without getting challaned. Many are calling from Noida, Gurgaon, Punjab and as as far as Lucknow to ask if they are exempt from the rule,” said an official.