Driving Delhi Around in Circles
and people don’t venture out in their SUVs after that hour. Perhaps the strangest assumption being made is that people won’t buy a second car if this scheme is implemented for half a month every month.
Kejriwal needs to be more realistic. In none of his advertisements has he appealed to corporate houses and offices to use car-pooling for their employees who do not have a desk job and have to move around for meetings. Exempting women drivers seems uncalled for, especially as the scheme will be in effect from 8am to 8pm.
But the idea is supported because Delhi roads are still not safe for women, there is hardly any improvement in last-mile connectivity, public transport would become even more unsafe for women as these will be overcrowded during the fortnight, and taxis are a service not every woman can afford.
Delhi will once again see women driving alone in their cars while the male members of their families will take public transport or taxis. The end result will not be less cars on the road.
Leading car manufacturers are already promising to launch hybrid cars which may contribute to checking pollution, but not reduce traffic. Moreover, if ‘odd-even’ becomes more regular – the plan is to implement it every month from next year onwards – the number of people refusing to sell their old cars or keeping two cars will keep going up. As will the number of taxis and two-wheelers.
Some car brands are in the process of launching sub-2000 cc models to beat the ban on registration of new diesel cars above this limit. Polluting vehicles like trucks and diesel cars will be allowed to ply from 8pm to 8am. Diesel vehicles above 2000 cc can always be bought from outside NCR and plied here. So stopping registration of new vehicles from this category does not help much.
Delhi is a city where people haggle with parking lot attendants for small change and plead not guilty in front of traffic police even after blatantly violating rules. Kejriwal will be well aware that cars will be back on Delhi roads with a vengeance from May 1, as they did from January 16 onwards.
The Delhi government appears to be keen on grabbing eyeballs through the ‘odd-even’ scheme rather than make any concrete, long-term contribution to either reducing pollution or making the roads less congested. For instance, what measures has the administration taken to close down polluting industries which cause a major share of the pollution?
That this ‘odd-even’ project is more about sloganeering and posturing than finding real, long-term, holistic solutions was clear when the AAP government observed a no-car day in January. Most AAP ministers got dropped off in their cars to the venue to participate in the event.
As things stand, the real beneficiaries will be auto and taxi drivers, as well as the volunteers – around 5,000 of them will reportedly be pressed into service from April 15 to 30 – and retired Army personnel the Delhi government plans to hire. The exchequer would be bled of hundreds of crores once again as Kejriwal will use the funds to advertise himself and his signature ‘odd-even miracle’.
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