Delhi rolls off odd-even second phase, over 1,300 violators fined

New Delhi : The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government on Friday kicked off the second phase of its odd-even traffic scheme in the national capital. Delhiites and Twitterati generally endorsed the move aimed at battling pollution, but opposition parties slammed it while over 1,300 violators were fined on the first day itself.

Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai, who travelled on a Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) bus to take stock of the situation, expressed satisfaction over the response to the scheme’s second leg.

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The opposition Congress and BJP, however, did not back the plan and demanded improvement in existing public transport facilities.

Traffic police reported they ticketed 884 violators on the first day of the scheme, the south and southeast districts topping the list with 271 violators. Separately, the Delhi Transport Department challaned 427 violators through the day.

Those not abiding by the rule are to be fined Rs.2,000.

Delhi has an estimated over 26 lakh registered cars as of March 31, 2015. On Friday, the even numbered private cars went off the roads in compliance with the traffic restrictions for four-wheelers.

According to the data provided by the Delhi Metro, total ridership on the scheme’s first day ranged between 16 and 18 lakh.

The first day of the second phase also saw roads less crowded as the day also happened to be a public holiday owing to the Ram Navami festival.

While Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress demanded immediate steps to improve public transport facilities in the city, AAP’s former key member Prashant Bhushan termed the odd-even exercise a “gimmick”.

“Citizens may offer better solutions for pollution, bike lanes, better public transport/BRT, than gimmicks like odd/even,” Bhushan posted on Twitter.

BJP’s Delhi unit president Satish Upadhyaya said the “unplanned” odd-even scheme was causing inconvenience to the citizens.

“It is the most unplanned scheme the government has come up with. The government has not worked on improving the public transportation system,” he said.

Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken said: “The AAP government was imposing its scheme on Delhiites without improving the condition of public transport.”

Around 4,000 civil defence volunteers, mostly young people, were stationed at major crossings. Sporting green umbrellas and holding placards calling for saving the environment, the volunteers held roses in their hands to present to violators.

Around 2,000 traffic police personnel and 400 ex-servicemen were also deployed to enforce the scheme that is aimed at tackling rising pollution in the city.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who has proposed to make it a monthly affair, appealed to the people to make the second phase a success.

“Odd even starts today (Friday). Let’s all join hands and resolve to make it a success,” Kejriwal tweeted in the morning.

Rai said the public response to the second leg of the scheme was satisfactory.

“As we can see today people are following the odd-even rule voluntarily. I hope the second phase will also be a success like the first phase in January this year,” Rai told IANS.

Rai, who travelled in a DTC bus from the Delhi Secretariat to Pragati Maidan, India Gate, Connaught Place, Minto Road, Ramlila Maidan and other spots, hinted at the possibility of the odd-even scheme being made a feature every month if this phase proved successful.

“The first phase was during winters, and this is summer. We will collate the experiences from both the seasons. Therefore, this is the decisive phase. Depending on the feedback, the government may consider odd-even scheme every month for 15 days,” he said.

Rai had carpooled to office in an odd-numbered car with Burari legislator Sanjeev Jha and Mehrauli legislator Naresh Yadav.

The Delhi government held the first phase of the odd-even traffic scheme from January 1 to 15 this year. The city government’s inititives came after the Delhi High Court last year asked it to take urgent steps to curb worsening menace of Delhi’s pollution.

People on micro-blogging site twitter mostly supported the odd-even move.

Abhishek Gupta, a cricketer who has played for the national under-19 team, posted: “##RRoads are so empty with young volunteers stand aside of the roads holding roses but finding only few offenders. #OddEvenBegins##.”

Chartered accountant Anurag Pandey said there were no traffic congestions on the roads.

“##OddEvenBegins Wow…Awesome experience on road No traffic congestion.. Looks as its saturday-sunday even in peak hours Thx @ArvindKejriwal##” Pandey tweeted.

The odd-even vehicle movement plan for four-wheelers will continue till April 30 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. except on Sundays.

Vehicles operated through compressed natural gas (CNG), two-wheelers, women motorists and several categories of VIPs and parents ferrying children to school are exempted from the restrictions.