AS Delhi rolled out round two of the odd-even vehicle rationing scheme to curb air pollution, focusing more on enforcement this time than awareness, the impact was most felt at an unlikely location — the unofficial parking spaces around the capital’s iconic cricket stadium.
With Feroz Shah Kotla hosting a high-octane IPL match between Delhi Daredevils and Kings XI Punjab Friday, and police booking 511 violators till 1 pm — 138 were booked on the first day of round one on January 1 — some spectators parked their cars near the stadium before 8 am or opted for car-pools while others took first-time Metro rides.
A few said they were so desperate to make it to the match that they just paid the Rs 2,000 fine.
According to traffic police, at least 48 drivers were fined for violating the odd-even scheme around the stadium till 7 pm Friday. Sources said they were booked at the ITO, Delhi Gate, Rajghat and Vikas Marg intersections.
Meanwhile, the four main lots around the stadium, which had a heavy police presence, had only a few cars parked.
Akshay, a parking attendant, at Kotla Road, which is closest to the stadium, said the lot was usually packed well before the match. But at 6.45 pm, he was left staring at empty lots. “Odd-even ke chakkar mein koi aaya he nahi hai (Nobody has come today because of the odd-even scheme),” he said.
At the Mata Sundari College parking lot nearby, buses on shuttle duty stood empty. A traffic policeman deployed outside the road said he had never been as relaxed while deployed for a cricket match.
“I drove into Delhi in the morning to avoid the fine and parked my car here. I have been hanging around this area since then. The rule is not applicable after 8 pm, so I can drive back after the match. The cab sharing rates at that time in the night are too expensive and I would much rather just drive home in my own car,” said the driver of a Harayna-registered vehicle at the parking lot in Rajghat.
His car’s registration number ended with an even number — April 15 was earmarked for cars that had registration numbers ending with odd numbers. At the Rajghat lot, the largest near the stadium, 75 cars were found parked at 6.30 pm with 26 of them sporting registration plates ending in even numbers.
Another commuter there with an even-numbered car registered in Delhi admitted that he just paid the fine. “I paid the fine, what else? I have come for the match with my children and their friends, managing all of them on the Metro would have been difficult, so I just decided to drive here,” he said, declining to be identified.
A transport department volunteer and ex-serviceman N N Meena, who was on duty to enforce the scheme, said that he fined an Audi car driver who had come to watch the match. “He easily paid the fine and also was convinced that he violated the rule. The cost of the car was about Rs 80 lakh,” said Meena.
In the hours leading upto the 8-pm match, the violet line of Delhi Metro was filled with fans clad in the Daredevils jersey between 3:30 pm and 5 pm.
Vijay, a resident of Lajpat Nagar, who was on the Metro with many of his friends, said, “I have an even car, so I would rather ride the train than pay a fine that costs more than what I paid for the tickets.” Another fan on the Metro said, “I am not complaining, I hate getting stuck in traffic. Plus, this saves me the trouble of having to wait to get out of the crowded parking lot.”