Delhi government's plan to implement the formula of 'Odd-Even' number plate car plying on alternate days with effect from 1st January, 2016 has drawn a lot of flak from many experts.
Delhi government came with this formula as it had to find an urgent solution to rising pollution level in the city following Delhi High courts' remark that living in Delhi is like living in a gas chamber. Many experts think that AAP government in a hurry proposed this plan without even consulting experts and stakeholders. A plan that is implemented in other countries, which also failed at some place, shouldn't be applied in Delhi, many experts opined.
However I think let's support the plan. If this plan had failed in some countries, it also succeeded in some countries' capital like London, Paris etc. Thus there is nothing wrong to experiment particularly when Delhi's killer air is choking.
As per some calculation vehicular pollution contributes around 86% of total air pollution in Delhi. It's also observed that on the day of Dussera when vehicular traffic was minimal on Delhi roads, the air pollution reduced 45% which is very significant. Thus this plan although not sufficient but will definitely reduce pollution to some extent. Let's discuss some of the concerns by experts.
Some experts say Delhi has around 28 lakh cars. Thus if the 'odd-even' formula is implemented then a sizable number of commuters to the tune of 14 lakh will have to travel by alternative modes like trains, buses, autos etc. Question is whether the mass transit system has the capacity to accommodate this load otherwise there would be gross chaos.
However I feel this shouldn't be a problem. No doubt Delhi's mass transit system at the moment has no capacity to accommodate this extra burden. But question is why Delhi's mass transit system doesn't have the capacity. The answer is lack of demand. The ever increasing car going commuters resulted in to less demand in mass transit system. If this formula is implemented then there will be demand of mass transit system.
When there is demand, there would be a definite increase in capacity not only in government sector but also in private sector. The metro trains would increase the frequency as well as number of coaches. Many private bus owners will increase number of buses because of demand. Even in a month possibly there would be number of air-conditioned luxury buses that would start rolling for high middle class and rich people.
No doubt initially there would be some chaos, but definitely in a month or two the culture of using mass transit system can be implemented. For such a good thing to happen, I don't think chaos for a small period has any cost.
Another concern is whether Delhi Police has the capacity to check violators of the system. Another concern is that it will increase bribery in lower police department. My point is, this shouldn't be a concern at all. You can't stop bribery even if you increase number of police personnel. Point is simple, engage special squads for checking and put hefty fines against violators. The fine should be so high that the violator would never dare to cheat again. Further when this system would become a culture I don't think car going people would like to be embarrassed by using wrong car on a particular day.
One more concern is that rich people can afford two cars, one with even number plate and other with odd number plate. But this is not a concern at all. The affording people have multiple cars. You can't stop those owning cars. Nor it's ideal to ban new car purchase or ban registration in Delhi. This not only violates one's fundamental right but also seriously affects government's revenue generation.
What government can do is to impose high tax on road permit to ply in Delhi. This way not only Delhi registered cars but also outside cars, which enters to Delhi will have to pay high tax that will discourage people to have more cars as well as to enter Delhi with outside cars. People will prefer Delhi taxi or its mass transit system to come to Delhi.
There would be two real concerns as per experts. The autos and taxis may charge steep price taking advantage of commuters' plight. Second, what would happen to ladies who use cars for office and to return home late in night? Both questions have simple answer that government has prime responsibility to address these problems. If some taxi or auto would be charging abnormal fare, there should be system where the commuter can complain and the violators must be punished.
For ladies compelled to use taxi or auto in night owing to problem of odd and even car formula, I would say government has the responsibility to ensure the safety of the car-owning-lady commuters exactly the same way as for non-car-owning lady commuters.
If government has the system to ensure ladies safety, these car owning ladies too will be safe when using taxi or auto. Thus I don't think matter of safety of ladies to be seen as a hurdle in this odd-even formula.
Now the question is whether this odd-even formula would address the issue of pollution in Delhi? Answer is, to some extent only. I strongly believe that unless the metro-cities are de-crowded, there would be no permanent solution. But yes, this formula can reduce the pollution to some extent and can develop a culture of using mass transit system. Therefore I support Delhi government's proposal despite knowing that there would be serious hiccups in initial stages.