The odd-even formula debate: Ex-Delhi Transport Minister says AAP govt should've planned properly

By Debobrat Ghose and Naresh Sharma (video)

New Delhi: Does Delhi government have a viable alternative to offer its citizens once the ‘Beijing model’ is in place? Or is it on a trial-and-error basis that the government wants to find out a solution to the rising pollution in the national capital?

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday had said that he would withdraw the odd-even number formula, if people didn’t accept it. But till then, there would be a trial run of the odd-even formula that will allow citizens to use even-numbered (last digit) cars or two-wheelers on one day, and the odd-numbered ones on the other. Sundays will have no restriction.

Former Delhi Transport Minister Ramakant Goswami. Screenshot taken from Firstpost video.

Former Delhi Transport Minister Ramakant Goswami. Screenshot taken from Firstpost video.

Delhi government’s announcement on Friday along with several other proposals, immediately received a sharp reaction from the citizens over the practicality of the odd-even formula, and the debate still continues.

While many would not like to shift from personal cars to public transport system, there are many who are optimistic about the proposal. For the sake of having a pollution-free Delhi and clean air, many citizens might have welcomed the new move of the AAP government, but they are equally confused over absence of a viable alternative at present.

Is there any viable alternative ready with the government for the citizens from 1 January, 2016?

Speaking to Firstpost, former Delhi Transport Minister, Ramakant Goswami says, “Delhi CM said if the formula fails, it would be scrapped. This is not an option to the serious pollution problem in Delhi. Before announcing that the traffic will be controlled on the basis of odd-even formula, the government should have had a proper alternative system in place for the smooth and safe movement of the citizens. There’s none. The transport minister has said that they would get 7000 buses for Delhi. Can they get it within a month? The government should have waited till they had a proper system.”

What could be the alternative?

Goswami points out, “To accommodate the commuters, who’ll shift from cars and two-wheelers to public transport system, the latter needs to be strengthened.” He also gave the following suggestions:

· Number of DTC buses should be increased with a larger geographical coverage and last point connectivity.
· Add coaches in the existing Metro trains and increase number of trains and its frequency.
· Autos should be increased and they should not deny accepting passengers, as they do now, despite carrying an ‘On Duty’ board.
· Proper feeder service from Metro stations to nearby residential areas and markets.
· Ensure transportation facility after 9 pm, as it becomes difficult for the citizens to get modes of public transport, especially in winters.
· Ensure easy accessibility of public transportation system of any form during an emergency.
· Citizens’ safety (especially women and children) must while using public transport.
· Public transport for those who have late night shifts and late hour workings like in hospitals, call centres, media houses, etc.

For an overall improvement of transportation sector:

“There is a need for a comprehensive, single window policy on transportation, where all the stakeholders, agencies and departments concerned should be consulted and heard while formulating a policy. Like, Delhi government prior to announcing its proposals didn’t consult Delhi police, including traffic police,” says Goswami.

The AAP-government received a moral support when the Chief Justice of India TS Thakur said that he would go for car-pooling.

But, is it a viable option for all the citizens?

“No, because, everyone doesn’t go to Central Secretariat to work. What’ll happen to individuals going in different directions or to NCR to work? Car-pooling won’t be possible in such cases.”

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA and secretary, Delhi, Saurabh Bhardwaj says, “Our government wants to bring this with a consensus and not through enforcement. We’ve no choice but to take harsh steps, especially after the High Court’s stand on pollution in Delhi. After a lot of engagements and discussions, the government decided this to be the right time to come up with the proposal. It’s not possible to get 10,000 buses tomorrow, as it takes time and also depends on government’s resources. We’ve to find out solutions available within our ambit.”

At present, Delhi has 4,700 DTC buses, by which nearly 45 lakh people commute daily and there’s a requirement of 11,000 new buses. Delhi Metro has 216 trains and used by nearly 25 lakh passengers daily.

Mixed reaction

While Shakuntala Kazmi welcomed the proposal announced by Kejriwal, another Delhi-ite Sumedha Kendhe, a resident of Indraprastha Extension, wants an effective public transport system before the government implements its number formula. “First, government needs to boost public transport. Ensure last mile connectivity and only then go for odd-even number formula. Does the government have enough manpower to implement such a decision? What if people start buying second vehicle or forge number plates?” asks Kendhe.

Updated Date: Dec 08, 2015 17:03 PM

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