Delhi’s controversial odd-even car rationing to curb pollution is working just fine on launch day

No more clogging, Delhi.
No more clogging, Delhi.
Image: AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal
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For the next 15 days, car owners in Delhi will have to think twice before plying their vehicles.

The odd-even formula by the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government—under which private cars are allowed on the roads only on alternate days—kicked into effect from the first day of 2016.

On Jan. 1, only vehicles with license numbers ending with an odd number (1, 3, 5, 7, and 9) are allowed on Delhi roads. And so far, the residents are obliging.

Under the Delhi government’s new rule, if vehicles with license numbers ending with odd numbers are out one day, it will be the turn of vehicles with license numbers ending with even numbers the following day, and so on. The rule would be operational between 8 AM and 8 PM, and offenders would be fined Rs2,000 ($30). In addition, the government has issued two helplines for car owners to register complaints.

The main reason to introduce this scheme is to bring the Indian capital city’s hazardous level of pollution under control.

However, some 25 categories are exempt from the rule, including two-wheelers, women drivers, and CNG-certified vehicles, among others. Even the VIPs are excluded, but the Delhi chief minister and his cabinet have decided to follow it.

Within a couple of hours of its launch, an overwhelmed Kejriwal declared the experiment was working as car owners were following the lead. The chief minister, whose car’s license number ends with an even number, opted for carpooling.

Other Aam Aadmi Party ministers have expressed support for Kejriwal—and his new scheme.

“I am very confident that Delhi people would like to give their loved ones a New Year gift-pollution free environment,” Manish Sisodia, Delhi’s deputy chief minister, told ANI. The minister owns an odd number car, and plans to use a bicycle or carpooling on days he wouldn’t be allowed to take his car out.

“The odd-even formula seems to be working very well in Delhi. We can see very less vehicles on road and it’s a different Delhi altogether,” tourism minister Kapil Mishra, who rode a bicycle to work on Jan. 1, said.

Despite the jamboree, the real test of the odd-even formula would still be on a working day, when Delhi roads suffer massive clogging and high levels of pollution during peak traffic hours. While #IamWithOddEven was the topmost trending hashtag on Twitter today, some detractors pointed out serious flaws in Delhi’s car rationing plan.

Also read: Dear Delhi: Here’s how to cope with odd-even. Love, Beijing