New Delhi Railway Station was unusually quiet and had a deserted look Friday morning. A few cars with even-numbered registration on a day meant for odd-numbered ones drove right into the arms of transport department officials.
Two teams of the Transport Department’s enforcement wing had taken positions at the Ajmeri Gate from 7.30 am. Their SUV’s registration number ended
When Mukesh Sharma’s driver Rajan was challaned and fined Rs 2,000 a few hours later, Mukesh’s brother Rana protested lightly, “But your car is even-numbered. Why are you prosecuting us?”
Sub-inspector Pramod laughed and showed him the order which exempts government enforcement vehicles from the odd-even policy. “How will we implement the order if we are bound by its rules?” said Pramod.
A total of 66 teams of the Transport Department working in two shifts kept an eye on violations. The teams have also been tasked with ensuring autorickshaw drivers don’t harass commuters.
Civil defence volunteers, two to a transport official, were stationed across the city. Vineet, 22, a fresh civil defence volunteer, conscientiously flagged down autos leaving the New Delhi railway station to check if they were charging by meter.
Most of the three-wheelers had passengers readily assuring Vineet, Pramod and their colleagues that the auto drivers were going by meter. Many drivers smiled cheekily, as they drove away.
“Drivers fleece passengers and touts are something one can’t escape at the railway station. We are supposed to ensure no one harasses passengers. But it is the passengers who refuse to cooperate with us because a challan means a call from court,” said ASI Parween.
Soon, a Kashmiri family did own up that their driver had negotiated a price with them before setting out. A challan was briskly issued and the family was helped into another auto whose driver agreed to go by meter.
By the time the odd-even hour ended at 8 pm, the transport department had issued challans and fined 65 cars across the city for violating the policy, said a transport department official. Action was also taken against 140 autos for overcharging and other violations, added the official.
Taking stock of the opening day, the official said, “It was a success and we are happy. We did not map any flaws in enforcement or negative response from citizens. So we will not be changing arrangements for Day 2. As and when we encounter problems, we will micro-manage them. We discussed that we need 40 more wireless sets for our transport enforcement teams. We are buying them.”