By Harshmeet Singh
Delhi Government’s decision to prohibit the odd and even numbered private vehicles on alternate days was probably the biggest news to come out yesterday. The decision was lauded by many, refuted by some but ignored by none. Within hours of the news, different memes started to do rounds on the internet and the public started to voice their opinions on the social media. The speed at which the news spread highlighted the impact of even odd rule on the common man.
Delhi won’t be the first place in the world to implement such a rule. The even-odd rationing has been enforced in a number of other countries for varying reasons. In 1979, when Iran and Iraq were going through turbulent times and weren’t able to contribute to the world’s oil output, the oil prices shot up considerably. To tackle the situation, the US went for odd-even rationing, allowing even and odd numbered vehicles to buy gasoline on alternate days. Similar strategies, albeit to restrict the burgeoning traffic, have been put into action in cities such as Athens, Mexico city, Manila and Quito (Ecuador). Beijing also made use of this rule for 2 months prior to the 2008 Olympics to improve the air quality in the city.
This move by the Delhi Government comes after the Delhi High Court’s remark that living in Delhi is similar to “living in a gas chamber”. However, despite all the good intentions that are behind this decision, it is at best, a knee-jerk reaction from the government. This decision follows the controversial four-hold salary hike that the Delhi MLAs gifted themselves as an advance New Year bonanza.
The new traffic rule would hit the lower and middle class the hardest while having little impact on the high-class people, most of whom own more than one car anyway. Considering the purchasing power of the affluent class in Delhi, this decision may very well result in a spike in car sales in the National capital. For the middle-class populace, who used to take their motorbike or the budget car at work, it is time to shell out extra bucks for those autorickshaws who refuse to go by the meter.
Pawandeep Singh, a resident of Dwarka in Delhi, drives to work to Gurgaon every day, along with his wife. He is ready to invest in another car to avoid the hassles. He tells NewsGram, “If I have to go to Gurgaon from Dwarka, there is no adequate metro connectivity. I would be willing to buy a second hand car with an odd-numbered number plate rather than changing multiple buses and autos.”
Urvashi Chaurasia, who lives in Saket, says that she is ‘surprised’ by this ‘mindless’ decision. In an interaction with NewsGram, she says, “I haven’t given a thought to what I would do after this mindless decision. But I am certainly not going to travel in those overcrowded buses and over-priced autos.”
The Kejriwal government seems to have jumped the gun with this decision. It should have first put the city’s public transport in order before going for such a radical step. The number of DTC buses is way below the requirement. The metro coaches are packed on most of the routes and their frequency is much lower than adequate. Both of these modes of transport fail to offer the last mile connectivity which is dearly needed in a huge city like Delhi. It gives an opportunity to the autorickshaws to make merry and demand higher fares.
The only option left for the common man to avoid much hassles is car pooling. But the deteriorating law and order situation in the city can make anyone skeptical at the thought of sharing his car with someone else. Delhi seems to be unprepared for such a move on all counts. With public transport that is nowhere near ‘world class’, the common man can’t afford road space rationing.