Delhi begins curbs on vehicles to cut pollution; CM says drive has become a movement
As the clock ticked eight, the odd-even vehicular restriction policy of the Delhi government came into effect on Friday with thousands of volunteers taking to the streets to assist traffic police in enforcing the pilot plan that will stay in force in India’s capital till Jan. 15.
As per the scheme, cars bearing odd-numbered registration plates shall ply on city roads on Friday while those with even number plates, if taken out, will attract a penalty of Rs 2,000 under relevant sections of the Motor Vehicles Act.
Thousands of civil defense volunteers, traffic police personnel, enforcement teams of Delhi government’s transport department and authorised sub-divisional magistrates were deployed to implement the scheme which was launched at 8 am and will be in force till 8 pm.
Overwhelmed” by the response of the people to the experiment, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the pilot initiative of the Aam Aadmi Party(AAP)-led government has turned “into a movement”.
He said that as per initial reports, the plan has been “quite successful” and people in Delhi have largely accepted the vehicular restrictions with an “open mind”.
“I repeatedly said that the scheme will meet with success only when people embrace it and not though force. It has become a movement and we are truly overwhelmed by the response we have received so far. Delhi will show way to the rest of the country,” Kejriwal said.
Violators greeted with roses
Each time an even-numbered vehicle was flagged down, the offending motorist was offered a rose — and some counselling about the rising pollution levels in Delhi.
The scene was a busy traffic intersection near Noida where a number of AAP volunteers were assisting Delhi Police personnel in keeping a tab on vehicles following the odd-even plan.
There were no police barricades near the Delhi-Noida border in the morning and the volunteers tried to ensure a smooth flow of traffic on the road. The volunteers, however, flagged down a few even-numbered four-wheelers and went up to the drivers to present a rose, reflecting a Gandhian spirit.
They also counselled the motorists to follow the government’s odd-even plan and asked them to return. While some vehicle owners followed the instructions, others gave their reasons for not being able to comply with the plan.
Shiv Kumar Sharma, a civil defense volunteer from Geeta Colony circle in east Delhi, said his group was able to persuade some motorists to turn back. “We are here since 7 am. We are giving roses to people and couseling them about the odd-even formula. So far, we have persuaded around a dozen people to turn back,” he said.
“Some people said they were going to hospital or there was an emergency. We did let them go.”
The roses were provided by the area district magistrate’s office.
Another civil defense volunteer, who did not wish to be named, said his group refrained from entering into any argument with the violators and requested them to comply with the rule.
“We cannot prosecute people. The police will do that,” he said, adding that the police were cooperating with them.