An ‘Odd’ Start for Delhi on New Year

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New Delhi: As the Kejriwal government’s odd-even plan took off on Friday with odd-numbered car to ply, Delhi will no doubt witness a slump in air pollution and a low traffic density but commuting will be a problem.

Malti Gupta, who stays in Sarita Vihar and is driven around, cannot take advantage of the exemption granted to single women who drive. “What about women like me and those who anyway use public transport,” she asks. “For that matter, why have two-wheelers been exempted? Delhi HC has rightly asked the government to explain.”

“The whole country is going to watch us in the New Year. If you want to rid Delhi of pollution, it is in your hands,” said city Transport Minister Gopal Rai, who will share a ride with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and other ministers today.

Many offices and residents’ associations have arranged car-pools. The union home ministry has also organised car-pooling for its officers. The government has said that special buses will ferry people between Delhi, Gurgaon and Noida.

Those who violate the odd-even rule will be fined Rs. 2,000 by traffic policemen and officials. Exceptions have been made for medical emergencies, women, VIPs, CNG cars and two-wheelers.

Some 7,500 volunteers will be at traffic intersections carrying placards explaining the rules. They cannot stop cars, but have been asked to hand out flowers to offenders.

To cope with the extra pressure on the public transport network, the government has hired around 3,000 private buses. Schools have been ordered to remain closed till January 15 so that their buses can also be used.

For a two-hour test run on Thursday, many volunteers failed to show up. Some 40 officers meant to be part of the odd-even drive were on mass leave to protest action against their colleagues allegedly for not signing off on decisions taken by Arvind Kejriwal’s cabinet.

The Centre has dismissed AAP’s action against the officials as “null and void”. AAP has alleged a conspiracy by the Centre to sabotage the odd-even plan by instigating the officers.

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