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Saturday, April 13 2024

Odd-even experiment to return on April 15, announces Kejriwal

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New Delhi: The odd-even traffic scheme aimed at curbing pollution will be back in Delhi from April 15 to 30, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced here on Thursday.

He said three days before his AAP government completes a year in office this was decided following feedback from the people after the January 1-15 experiment which he and his ministers said was a hit.

“The next phase of the odd-even scheme will start from April 15,” Kejriwal said, adding that two-wheelers and women motorists would continue to be exempted.

He said the scheme cannot be implemented on a permanent basis in Delhi – home to some 90 lakh vehicles – despite demands until the public transport was in a position to cope with all those who would take to it.

“If we implement the scheme on the nearly 30 lakh two-wheelers, there will be chaos.”

Kejriwal, who took office on February 14 last year, said the April 15 date had been chosen because the annual school-leaving examination, barring “one small paper”, would be over by then.

He said the overwhelming response of Delhiites was that while they wanted the odd-even scheme, they did not desire it when the school exams were on.

Kejriwal said his government was debating if the scheme, under which cars with odd registration numbers ply on odd dates and those with even numbers on even dates, should be enforced every 15 days a month.

“If the people of Delhi cooperate, if they can bear with the difficulties for six days a month, we can think of this,” he said, flanked by Transport Minister Gopal Rai.

According to Kejriwal, when the traffic curbs are implemented for two weeks, each category of car owners gets affected only for some six days as the scheme is not applicable on Sundays.

After the January 1-15 trial period of the odd-even scheme, there were conflicting claims on whether reducing the number of cars curbed pollution levels in the national capital.

But it was universally accepted that it drastically cut down the number of cars – which form a third of all vehicles in Delhi – on the otherwise perennially clogged roads, making commuting a smooth affair.

“This is something even we did not anticipate,” said Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.

Kejriwal added that about 500 retired military personnel would be recruited to enforce the odd-even scheme in April.

He said most people wanted the exemption given to the VIPs in January to go. He indicated he was not ready for this.

“We will request VIPs to follow the (odd-even) system. But we will keep the exemptions. The more the VIPs follow it voluntarily, it will be good.”

Earlier, speaking to a select group of journalists at his house, Kejriwal said the odd-even scheme would be implemented for short periods. “We can’t do it on a permanent basis.”

The chief minister said Delhi would get 1,000 new buses by May, another 1,000 by August and yet another 1,000 by the end of the year to strengthen its public transport.

Unless “a convenient and easily accessible” public transport was in place, motorists who give up driving during odd-even restrictions won’t embrace buses and trains, he said.

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