Odd or Even? Why the Delhi plan is the dumbest thing ever!

So recently, the Delhi Government, announced that they were going to implement a new rule from January 1st 2016, which would allow vehicles with Odd and Even registrations to ply only on alternate days. Like the rest of the world, I think it is a dumb idea. The intention might be good, to reduce pollution, but the backlash this is going to have, is going to wreak havoc across not just the National Capital Territory, but also the National Capital Region.

Note: Many readers have complained that I have a bad perspective because I’m a Mumbaikar. Just to clarify, that in the period running up to the New Year and for the next two weeks, I was a resident of the National Capital Region, living in Gurgaon and traveling to Delhi every alternate day. I was subject to the Odd-Even Joomla for 12 out of 15 days.

Before, I go forward, I just want to remind you of two things:

  • This nonsensical proposal was planned for Mumbai by the AAP’s big brother Congress, over a decade ago. It got scrapped, and for a good reason.
  • This proposal apparently works well in China. People who support it forget one thing. China is not a Democracy.

Another point to add is that the aim of this whole system is to reduce pollution, not traffic on the roads. Using that as a metric to claim its success is not valid.

So, why would this be a problem?
Enforcement Issues

Enforcing this would be a major headache. With the exception of Gurgaon, the areas of the NCR surrounding Delhi, are contiguous territories. It is nearly impossible to distinguish between Ghaziabad, Faridabad, NOIDA and Delhi. Now, given that the Delhi Government, specifically the Delhi RTA, would have authority over only DL-registered vehicles, how will they stop other vehicles from plying? Delhi, by virtue of being a Union Territory, has lesser road taxes, so nobody would get a HR or UP registration to ply their vehicles. But how would they stop vehicles from other parts of the NCR from doing so? Especially since places like Faridabad and NOIDA don’t have that good public transport as Delhi!

Extra Load on Existing Infrastructure

This move will screw up the way people travel in Delhi. Delhiites love poking fun at Mumbaikars for the Suburban Rail, calling it smelly, overcrowded, and what not. There is a statement, “Darr ke aage Jeet Hai, aur Dadar ke aage Seat Hai”, which translates to “There is Victory ahead of Fear, and a Seat ahead of Dadar”. Atleast, the Suburban, by virtue of not being air-conditioned, has stale air being pumped out from inside the train. More importantly, we have Fast trains in Bombay. We don’t have to sit in a train from Churchgate to Virar stopping at every single station on its way. The Delhi Metro is worse than the Mumbai Suburban in terms of crowd. DMRCL often goofs up by running 6 car trains to Gurgaon and 4 car trains to Faridabad.

There is this video of officers pushing people into the train, where they are packed like sardines in a tin can so that the doors can close. I have seen people pushing each other inside and being stuffed in a similar manner in Gurgaon-bound trains. The Delhi public will not travel in the Ring Railway, thus making Metro the ONLY way to travel around for those who need to go long distances. The situation in the MMR cannot be compared because the MMR has multiple railway lines, one Metro line, plus one Monorail, plus the killer combination of BEST, TMT, NMMT. No matter how unethical NMMT and TMT are, they are far more efficient than the DTC and its new sibling the DIMTS. This will also push up the crowds in buses, which already crowded. Delhi buses are filthy cheap, and this makes it worse. With a reported 400 buses breaking down each day, this means that the government has to hire more buses, which is resulting in the steady comeback of Blueline buses.

EMERGENCY

What if I have an emergency, I need to get out of my house in a hurry? What if my office is in the other end of the city and I don’t a have a Metro line anywhere near me? What if someone in my house is sick and I need to take them to the Hospital? Rich or poor, I am not going to buy a new car. This move will also affect carpoolers. What if five people who carpool, rotating cars on a daily basis, all have Even-numbered registrations? What if all are Odd-numbered? Has this been considered? I don’t think so. This move will affect Cab aggregators like Ola and Uber massively.

Fake Number Plates

Back in 2005, the Central Government had amended Section 50(2)(d) of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules [CMVR] to mandate the implementation of High Security Number plates. This was later upheld by the Supreme Court of India in 2011. These plates had security features such as a Hologram, could NOT be tampered-with and had to be fixed by an officer of the RTO only. So far only a handful of states including Sikkim, Goa, Gujarat, have implemented it. Anyone can duplicate number plates and change it daily. This is going to give a new boost to these fake number plate manufacturers however.

Priorities

Noble or not, the Delhi government has got its priorities wrong. Massively.

If the state government is seriously interested in reducing air pollution, it needs to start coordinating with the Centre, and other States in the NCR to find a long term solution to tackle the issue. The NCT is super congested, and banning certain vehicles on certain days is going to compound the issue rather than solve the problem. Delhi’s AC buses are already pathetic, and this is going to render them useless. Better public transport, and better connectivity, is what will show results, filling pockets of autowallahs who don’t charge per the meter won’t. Further, the ban on Surge Pricing for Cab aggregators like Uber and Ola is worsening the situation, causing a lack of cabs in places that require them and letting the Auto mafia rule.

In 1989, Mexico City implemented a similar plan. The net result? People stopped using Public Transport. Yes, they stopped using public transport.

Exemptions

Recently, the Delhi government announced a few exemptions. Among them are:

  • All two wheelers
  • CNG Vehicles
  • Electric and Hybrid Vehicles
  • Women Drivers with a Male Child of Upto Age 12
  • President, Vice President, Prime Minister and Cabinet, Ministers of other States, except Delhi
  • Emergency Vehicles
  • Defence Vehicles
  • Vehicles of SPG Protectees
  • Those On the Way to a Hospital [With Proof]

Now these exemptions, are major loopholes. Two wheelers are exempt. Are they not polluting? Evidently, Kejriwal and team have never been to Pune or Bangalore. According to a recent IIT Kanpur report: 46% pollution is created by trucks in the city when it comes to both PM 10 and PM 2.5. Two-wheelers contribute to 33% of the pollution, 10% is contributed by four-wheelers. Buses contribute to 5% of the pollution, whereas 4% is done by light commercial vehicles, and the rest is the contribution of three-wheelers and other factors.

CNG Vehicles, which make up most of the Public Transport. So, again, not much difference, people an pay ₹50k, get a CNG conversion done and keep going. Further, what stops a CNG vehicle from driving on Petrol? Hybid and Electric is fine to a certain extent, but then we must remember, these vehicles are expensive, and thus, the rich car owners of South Delhi can rejoice. Again, what stops a Hybrid vehicle from switching to fuel? Women Drivers with a Male Child? What sort of rubbish is this? So every woman in the household will now drive with her kid next to her. Official, Emergency and Defence Vehicles fine. Those on the way to the hospital must furnish proof? So if a car is stopped, you can throw a fit at the officers feet and he’ll let you go?

Commissioner of Police Delhi, BS Bassi, stated that out of 85lakh vehicles, 70lakh were exempt. What kind of rule is this? Lawyers have also been exempted from this rule.

The proposed fine for this is ₹2000 for each offence. Well done GNCTD, Well Done. You have successfully ruined a decent city.

Claiming that it was a success, two hours after it was launched, on a long weekend, when schools were shut in the winter, has to be the most illogical statement without any scientific backing whatsoever.

Updates

On 27th January, the Central Pollution Control Board stated that:

Overall, it can be stated that while some reduction in air pollution is likely to happen due to odd-even scheme, a single factor or action cannot substantially reduce air pollution levels in Delhi. Therefore, a comprehensive set of actions following an integrated approach is required to make substantial improvement in air quality,”

CNG Sticker Scam

With Round 2 of the Odd-Even scheme announced in April, a new twist has emerged.

The GNCTD had mandated that in order to be exempt from the earlier Odd-Even mess, all CNG vehicles would require a CNG sticker. These holographic stickers would be available at Indraprastha Gas stations. However, it has now emerged that these stickers could either be fake or sold off to car owners who don’t have a CNG vehicle.

Journalist Rahul Kanwal of India Today had this to tweet out about it.

Complete con job. Every other car at ITO has a CNG sticker. When I ask if the driver can open the boot – he freaks. Aise koi fayda nahi!

 

IVRS Scam

Another point to be noted was the IVRS Scam. Originally posted by the Frustrated Indian, this scam basically involved fake figures to showcase the Odd-Even hoopla as a success.

3,187 total views, 3 views today

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Author: Srikanth

BEST? Bus! Vroom, *pulls bellpull* Hi, I'm Srikanth. I'm a freelance media fellow with a fascination for buses, toll plazas, fire trucks and drones.

20 thoughts on “Odd or Even? Why the Delhi plan is the dumbest thing ever!”

  1. Delhi plays games with people. But it also tries to give a lot to people. This latest even-odd number thing is only another such game: trying to do something about pollution. If alternative arrangements are made for people who will suffer, it would be ok. But the only alternative will be that people should go for their own vehicles which would bring in much money to the govt in the form of taxes – road tax, regn tax, insurance tax + license fee and its tax, fines, an endless list! That’s politics.

    1. I really don’t know. Delhi has been a spoilt brat by virtue of being the National Capital. Taxing private vehicles too much is not the right move. The move should not be to get people to not buy cars but to reconsider it and think of Public Transport as a viable alternative.

  2. So people working in Night shifts will buy two cars and leave one at office? Drive to work in one and drive back in the other?

  3. Who’s gonna enforce this?
    The Delhi Police? No way. They’re not under the state government.
    Hollow promises. Again.

  4. Now they say that Women are to be exempted from this rule. Next what, all but the Aam Aadmi be exempted from this?

    1. By the way, just to add. DMRC has hired guards. They stand next to the platform fence at Kashmere Gate on the Red Line and Rajiv Chowk on the Blue Line to ensure that people are in so that the door can close. They are still running 4-car trains!

        1. Only the Yellow and Blue lines have 8 coach trains. Red, Violet, Green still run on 4-6 configurations.

  5. Mr. Ramakrishnan, as always, you have taken some interesting angles here, for example uber and ola cabs. Great blog!

    All I have to say here is that Mumbai has a great control over its traffic, especially the town areas, where no autos are aloud. I don’t know if such a thing happens in any part of Delhi but maybe they can try to implement that first and see how that works out.

    If that is not an option then its best to do this. There is no space on the roads with them being a hotch potch of rickshaws, autos, bullockcarts and other things unimaginable on a road!

  6. Lalu Prasad Yadav’s son Tej Pratap, comes up with a new solution: Ride a Horse to curb pollution! Of course, now with him and his party running Bihar, Nitish Kumar and Sushil Modi’s 8 years of good roads has gone for a toss. SO, this Horse Riding is definitely a good option for Bihar, but Delhi, I doubt it. Where will you get so many horses from?

  7. So the Odd Even rule started today at 8am. It’s a long weekend. Half of the NCR is out on a Holiday.
    At 10am, Kejriwal gives an interview saying the Odd-Even plan is super successful.
    A modern day Tuglaq indeed.

  8. From the Frustrated Indian:
    “Noida Administration has divided Noida into 7 zones with different weekly holidays. For the industries in Noida, the working hours have been altered. School timings have also been changed. They have either been reduced or increased by 15 to 20 minutes. Construction companies have been issued notices to stop dust emission. Diesel Autos will be banned soon. Noida Wallahs are all praise for this decision.
    Compare this with Kejriwal’s odd-even formula which remained a superhit in the media.
    Work speaks for itself. Baaaki bhai sab hawabaazi hai!”

    1. So the Odd-Even plan is indeed a great success. Yes, three hours after implementation, on the second day of a Long weekend.
      Delhi was super warm today, the temperature was in Double Digits.
      Normally, I can see the Qutub Minar from the Metro before it pulls into the Qutub Minar station. Today, I could barely see the hazy outline. The Qutub Minar is barely 1.7km by road and even closer as the crow flies.

    1. Which is a rather strange statement to make given that both are two totally different concepts altogether.

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