Millennium Post

Odd-even returns

Delhi’s citizens can now heave another sigh of relief. After receiving a lot of feedback from the public, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has announced that the odd-even experiment will return to the national capital on April 15. The second installment of this experiment will come to an end on April 30. As a reminder to our readers, the odd-even experiment saw a ban on private car on alternate days. Once again women driver and two-wheelers will be exempt from the restrictions, which allow cars with odd-numbered plates to run on odd-number dates; even-numbered cars are permitted on other days. Despite the overwhelming response to the experiment, Kejriwal has admitted that the capital continues to suffer from inadequate public transport. Suffice to say, the addition of 1,000-2,000 buses will not do much to improve public transport. In fact, it could worsen the traffic situation in the capital. To improve the public transport connectivity, there are certain measures the AAP government can take to improve its buses. Besides broken seats and windows, minimal access for the disabled and no space to stow luggage, overcrowding in the Delhi Transport Corporation buses are major concerns. Those who do take the bus do it out of sheer necessity.  These basic features need to be repaired in existing buses. Moreover, with the advent of GPS and the smartphone, the authorities could establish an app or a system, whereby commuters receive second-by-second updates about the time of arrival, disruptions, accidents and delays. Finally, to improve last-mile connectivity, which remains a major concern for those who have followed the odd-even experiment, the Delhi government must deregulate auto-rickshaw licenses and put an end to the artificial scarcity of environment-friendly CNG autos in Delhi, among other measures. The AAP government has miles to go before it makes a serious dent on pollution levels in the city. Moreover, questions remain on whether the odd-even experiment was successful in reducing pollution levels in the city. Although it did reduce congestion on Delhi roads, there is little evidence to support the belief that pollution levels came down. However, the success of the experiment was based on the fact that Delhi’s citizens had voluntarily bought into it. Instead of enforcing it in a top-down, authoritarian manner, the Delhi government convinced and cajoled its citizens to leave their cars for four days a week and use public transport instead. In other words, the onus on improving the state of Delhi’s air through the implementation of the odd-even experiment lied with its citizens. Talk about inculcating participation at the citizen level!
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