Delhi Government’s Odd-Even Scheme: A Dreadful Memory

Aam Aadmi Party has always been a party of U-turns. From its 49-day autocratic rule to its present day undemocratic functioning, all AAP has in its bucket-list is its obsession with name calling and plenty of unfulfilled promises. Blame game has been their ‘vajra’ and intolerance towards any rebellion against the party has been their mode of survival. Today after one year of the party’s coming to power, all it has remained is a herd of workers and politicians who seem to blindly agree with Arvind Kejriwal on all his decisions. For such people AK’s stance is a gospel truth, his yes is a yes and no is a no.

PR Agency in DelhiSo it’s no surprise that every AAP member is drumming around and running expensive Public Relations Campaigns – be it on Radio, Television, Print, Gullies, Mohallas, Facebook or Twitter – about the self-proclaimed ‘huge’ success of the Odd-Even Scheme. Heights of obsession are found in the fact that while surveys are showing the failure of the Odd-Even scheme, AAP is out with its own survey in support of its scheme. Reluctant to learn from the blunt failure of the scheme, AAP is once again ready to slaughter public concerns and re-impose Odd-Even Scheme from mid of April. But before it happens lets read about why the first Odd-Even Scheme was a failure and how it could have been made better or still could be made better.

AAP borrowed the idea of Odd-Even from some foreign cities. Of the cities that have successfully implemented such a scheme, things that were common among them were widespread and effective public transport systems, effective women safety measures, world-class pedestrian infrastructure& cycling lanes. Though AAP borrowed the idea but overlooked the fact that Delhi was not equipped with enough of these facilities to make implementation of the scheme beneficial to the aam aadmi.

Knowing the root cause of problem makes it half a battle won while tackling it. AAP made grave error in understanding the core of the problem. The Delhi Government acted in haste while ignoring the findings of major research work conducted on Delhi’s pollution issues. IIT Kanpur’s study on the particulate matter (PM), conducted by earlier Delhi governments, found that vehicles contribute to only 20 percent of the PM2.5 concentration. Out of this 20 percent, cars contribute approx 10 percent. This means that cars contribute merely 2 percent of the total PM2.5 on any given day. Another study by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute credited vehicles with 6.6 percent of emission of particulate matter. Despite being aware of the findings, AAP worked on the solution which nowhere could have met the objective of reducing pollution.

Oblivious to the reality, AAP reiterates that Delhi witnessed reduction in traffic jams and travel time. But this is just one side of the story. In reality the scheme was introduced to tackle pollution levels not the traffic problem. Considering this, there were no findings that showed reduction in pollution. Thereby the scheme failed miserably in achieving its prime objective. For implementation of the scheme, the city was poorly equipped with infrastructure. Still people complied because of the exorbitant fine levied on defaulters. But the question arises that where did the Delhiites go if they were not driving on the roads? The answer is simple, many were standing in hordes of lines in metro stations waiting, pushing, pulling and shouting restlessly to get into the metros that were appallingly inadequate to handle such a sudden spurt of crowd. Others were trying their luck on the roads to find an auto or taxi that would not charge them more than at least three times the basic rate.

Delhi TrafficAgain the Delhi Government boasting of its commitment to safety of women in Delhi made people’s life hell during the Odd-Even period. Though women were exempted from Odd-Even rule but the number of women using cars to commute is not very large. Most of the women are dependent on public transport. But bus stops, for them, turned into ‘Akhara’ for fifteen days. Metro was an option but again it had a limited space to accommodate the mess. Taxis and autos were either not available or charging exorbitant rates during peak hours or night time. In short, the scheme was run keeping women safety at stake.

Talking about the air quality during these fifteen days, the National Air Quality Index (NAQI) &the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology’s System of Air Quality & Weather Forecasting & Research’s monitoring Stations have provided with data that shows air has been toxic all winter and Odd-Even Scheme has made no difference.

Instead of the massive public relations campaign to publicize oneself and the party along with the scheme, had AK taken some realistic & sustainable steps to reduce pollution, it would have been better. Few things possible were; improvement of public transport systems, expanding metro reach, providing last mile connectivity, use of small buses instead of big buses (big buses mostly operate on half the capacity whereas small buses cause less jams and can be run to operate inside colonies also), cleaning of the city’s dust(that contributes to majority of the pollution), holding construction companies accountable for the pollution caused by them, increasing green cover of the city by planting grass, trees and flowers in empty spaces and roadsides, constructing walking zones that are safe and clean, banning fireworks and burning of wood, garbage and other things.

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