The odd-even formula for vehicles to check air pollution got off to an orderly start in the Capital on New Year’s Day, apparently helped by the fact that schools were closed and several people had taken the day off.

People appeared to be voluntarily following the restrictions. Today was the day for vehicles with odd registration numbers. Traffic looked sparse in several areas, even during peak hours. Several people were also seen cycling to work at busy intersections such as ITO and Akshardham.

Two hundred Traffic Police, 66 enforcement teams of transport department and 40 teams of sub-divisional magistrates were deployed across the city to ensure strict implementation of the scheme which is stipulated till 8 PM on week days.

“Overwhelmed” by the response of the people to the car rationing experiment, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that the pilot initiative of the AAP government has turned “into a movement”.

“People are co-operating, as are police and Civil Defence personnel,” Kejriwal said. 

He, however, added that odd-even road restrictions could never be implemented permanently.

Kejriwal, who himself carpooled with cabinet colleagues Gopal Rai and Satyendra Jain, said the government was likely to impose the restrictions when there was a spike in the air pollution.  The policy will be reviewed on January 15.

“This will go on till January 15. Then we will stop it and reassess. Nowhere in the world has the scheme been enforced permanently. It is practically not possible. Whenever pollution levels spike, this is used as a weapon,” Kejriwal said.

The Chief Minister said the restrictions may be enforced again for a few days in 2–3 months if pollution spikes.

“As per initial reports, the plan has been “quite successful” and people in the National Capital have largely accepted the restrictions with an ‘open mind’,” Kejriwal said.

It will be vice-versa tomorrow.

On suggestions that cars were off roads largely for it being the first day of the New Year, Kejriwal said that most of the cars, albeit less, that are plying bear odd number registration plates.

“Car volume may be less as it is a New Year day but it is to be noted that most of them have odd number registration plates. So the apprehensions are unfounded as only car volume may go up on Monday, not violations,” he said.

Speaking to reporters outside his residence, Kejriwal harped on the point that the scheme will meet with success only when people embrace it and not though force.

“It has become a movement and we are truly overwhelmed by the response we have received so far. Delhi will show way to the rest of the country,” Kejriwal said.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who reached the Secretariat on his official car bearing odd-number registration plate, echoed the Chief Minister’s observation saying that people have adopted the initiative as their “own mission”.

“And government is merely assisting them. So this is the ideal situation,” Sisodia said.

Delhi Tourism Minister Kapil Mishra, who rode his motorcycle to the Secretariat, tweeted soon after: “Wow Delhi Thank you for making #OddEvenFormula a success... just reached office on bike. No traffic. Delhi is following it voluntarily.” Two-wheelers are included in the list of 25 categories that have been kept out of the ambit of the scheme.

The Delhi Government has announced the policy to control vehicle flow in the city in a bid to fight the alarming rise of air pollution, especially in the winter months.

According to the new policy, vehicles bearing odd-numbered registration plates shall ply on city roads today, while those with even number plates, if taken out, will attract a penalty of Rs 2,000 under relevant sections of the Motor Vehicles Act.

Vehicles bearing odd and even registration numbers will be allowed to ply on city roads on odd and even dates, respectively, until January 15.

Restrictions will apply from 8 am to 8 pm. There will be no restrictions on Sundays. Women drivers travelling alone or with children, two-wheelers, CNG-certified vehicles and cars carrying differently abled passengers will be exempt from the policy.

VIP vehicles belonging to the President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India, Union ministers and governors and chief ministers of states and Union Territories, “except that of Delhi”, will be exempt.

Vehicles bearing the Defence Ministry’s number plates and those of Special Protection Group (SPG) protectees will not be covered under the policy, nor will emergency and enforcement vehicles such as ambulances, fire brigade, police vehicles, Transport Department’s vehicles. The plan will be reviewed on January 15.

Odd-even scheme keeps Delhi Police officials on toes

The odd-even scheme today kept Delhi Police officials on their toes, as thousands of traffic personnel were strategically deployed across the national capital to ensure that the road-rationing restrictions were not violated.

“More than 3,000 traffic police officials were deployed across the city following a well-drafted strategy and they have been specially briefed about the scheme,” said a senior traffic police official.

The prosecution figures exceeded 100 in a few hours of the scheme being put into effect at 8 am today, the official said.

Thousands of Civil Defense volunteers were seen assisting police teams at several major stretches and intersections in the city, including the ITO junction which witnessed the first prosecution under the first-of-its-kind initiative.

“The offender, who was driving a car with its registration number ending with 2 (even), was prosecuted at the ITO intersection around 8.33 am, following which he was slapped with the stipulated Rs 2,000 fine,” a traffic official said.

Persons stopped by police teams include a BJP lawmaker who was caught travelling in his SUV near the India Gate.

Meanwhile, Delhi Police Commissioner B.S. Bassi once again appealed to people to cooperate with his force throughout the 15-day period during which the initiative will be in force.

“I appeal to people to cooperate with Delhi Traffic Police for 15 days,” said Bassi, assuring that adequate personnel have been deployed for implementation of the scheme throughout the city.

“Today’s focus will largely be on educating people about the scheme. However, prosecution for violating the same shall be in place,” he added.

AAP govt thanks Delhi Police

Transport Minister Gopal Rai thanked the Delhi Police and civil defence volunteers for doing a good job on the first day of the trial run of the odd-even scheme which was well received by people.

Rai said though he was "unsuccessful" in spotting cars bearing even-numbered registration plates, a handful of violators were fined in the Capital.

The minister said that the number of violators was "negligible".

"I would like to thank Delhi Traffic Police, civil defence volunteers and sub divisional magistrates for their cooperation," Rai said.

Earleir, there were tensions between the Delhi government and Delhi Police after city police chief B.S. Bassi warned the volunteers against overzealousness and acting on their own.

"For clean air, we can leave our cars. It was my dream to change the mindset of people," Rai said.

Source: The Tribune, Chandigarh