Delhi ringed in the new year with a new experiment aimed at reducing air pollution which has reached alarming levels in the city. While the implementation of the odd-even scheme was widely lauded across several quarters, some voices of skepticism too were heard.
Although the scheme was formally launched on Friday, it will perhaps face its biggest test on Monday, when the majority of people are expected to head out for work. That, however, has not prevented the initiative from being the focus of attention through the first day of the year. Here are some significant comments on the policy till now-
In support of Odd-even policy-
Arvind Kejriwal- While the Delhi chief minister said that the scheme appears to have been a success as there were very few even-numbered cars out on the road, he also hit out at the central government, saying, "Dilli ki logon ne kendra sarkar ki aisi-taisi kar ki". He added, "Odd-even cannot be permanent. On 15 January, we will have a re-assessment."
Manish Sisodia- Delhi's deputy chief minister, too, struck a note of optimism ahead of the rollout of the policy. "I am confident that the people of Delhi would like to give their loved ones a new year gift- a pollution free environment. The odd-even rule is just a step towards this," Sisodia was quoted as saying by ANI.
Gopal Rai- Delhi's transport minister expressed optimism for the initiative, saying, "Today, Delhi has shown that it is ready for a pollution-free city, just as it showed that it was ready for a corruption-free city."
BS Bassi- The Delhi police commissioner called on people to follow the car restrictions, saying, "I appeal to people to cooperate with Delhi Traffic Police for 15 days...Today's focus will largely be on educating people about the scheme. However, prosecution for violating the same shall be in place." Earlier, Bassi had said that the scheme was being implemented in a hurry, and questioned the rationale behind the large number of exemptions for the policy.
Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi- The policy putting restrictions on private cars found a voice of support from the BJP, with Minister of State of Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas saying, "This is a great initiative and an important step to curb pollution in the national capital," as quoted in an ANI report on the Business Standard website.
Anjali Damania- Former AAP leader Anjali Damania expressed her support for the Delhi government's initiative. Reacting to Naqvi's comment, Damania said, "Now this is great...Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi of BJP welcomes odd-even policy, and Vijender Gupta and a few BJP leaders have taken to cycles. This is the need of the hour."
New Delhi Municipal Corporation commissioner PK Gupta- The civic chief said, "We are fully abiding by the rules prescribed during this 15-day period. And, thought it's a kind of light day today, one could actually feel that it was easier to drive on the streets. I mean normally, I would be stuck at India Gate hexagon area, but today we just whizzed past it."
Questioning odd-even policy
Congress- The Congress was not convinced about the effectiveness of the initiative, saying, "We want to ask whether it was a well-thought out decision or it was just an off-the-cuff decision taken to avoid media attention on the 400 per cent salary hike of Delhi MLAs."
Kiran Bedi, who had earlier been a part of an anti-corruption agitation along with Kejriwal, too, said that it was too early to judge the success or failure of the policy. "Monday is the real test...as we are right now into school holidays + holiday season and a weekend."
First violator- The first person who was caught for violating the odd-even restrictions was slapped with a Rs 2000 fine. The violator had said that he was aware of the restrictions, but took out his car as he had no other option, a traffic police official was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
With inputs from PTI