Monday, April 18, 2016

Odd-even back, traffic eases - Half-cooked exemption for schoolchildren falls flat

New Delhi, April 15: Delhi's roads seemed empty today as odd-even vehicle rationing returned three months after the pollution control experiment was first tried.

Toxic gases and particulate matter remained above safe limits although travel time was cut by at least two-thirds - both trends having continued from the first phase.

Unlike the first trial, the schools are open. Today, however, was Ram Navami and most schools, government offices and private firms remained closed. Also, many Delhi residents have headed to the hills for the long weekend.

"Many kids in our area have skipped school - the Guru Harkrishan Public School here was open," Krishna Nagar resident B.S. Vohra told this newspaper. "Some of those who neither take buses nor have arranged for carpools decided to skip classes."

The government has exempted cars carrying school-uniform-wearing children but not those returning after dropping them or going to pick them up - in effect, nullifying the exemption.

But transport minister Gopal Rai played down the inconsistency, highlighting the continuing exemption to women drivers (provided they are not driving adult male passengers).

"Eighty-five per cent of those who drop children to school and pick them up are women," he told reporters, without revealing the source of the stat.

"They should enquire about other children in their vicinity and drop them at their homes too."

Yogesh Agrawal, who normally drives his son to school in east Delhi before coming to his shop near Parliament, woke up early today.

"We decided to walk to his school. In the afternoon, his grandfather will walk him back. We're lucky that the school isn't too far. Others are carpooling or have booked autos."

One of Delhi's 15-odd auto-rickshaw unions and a taxi drivers' union have declared a strike on Monday demanding 10,000 new auto permits and a ban on mobile-app-based cabs found violating the CNG-fuel norm.

Delhi has only around one lakh autos, almost a fifth of which run without legal papers, to cater to its population of 1.65 crore - the lowest auto-to-population ratio in India.

The government and the schools are promoting carpooling. "We normally encourage them to carpool even without the odd-even rationing in force," Bal Bharati Public School principal L.V. Sehgal said.

Entrepreneur Anchal Agarwal has just bought a third car - a diesel SUV with even number plates. She already has a sedan and a hatchback with odd number plates. People can buy an even or odd registration number for Rs 20,000 in Delhi.

"As a woman, I'm exempt but my brother and father need to travel to work. My brother drives 50km from Anand Lok to Wazirpur every day," she said. "We plan to sell one of the old cars."

By evening, 1,311 cars had been fined Rs 2,000 for violations. The government plans to fine-tune the scheme in this round and make it a permanent feature every month.

With thanks : Telegraph - Kolkatta - LINK

No comments:

Post a Comment