Kejriwal unveils odd-even scheme, seeks public support

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New Delhi, Dec 24: The Delhi government on Thursday,Dec 24 unveiled its ambitious traffic rationing scheme to combat rising pollution, exempting 25 categories of motorists including women drivers, bikers, emergency vehicles and a host of VIPs.

The odd-even formula will be tried on a pilot basis for 15 days starting from January 1 and will apply between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily except on Sundays, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal told the media. It will also apply on vehicles entering Delhi from other states.

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Officials said the scheme will be applicable only on cars, which constitute almost a third of the capital's nearly nine million vehicles -- a situation that has taken Delhi's air pollution to alarming levels.

Buses, trucks and other commercial vehicles will be exempt.

According to the government, cars with odd registration numbers will ply on odd dates (January 1, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 and 15) and those with even registration numbers will run on even dates (January 2, 4, 6, 8, 12, 14). The scheme won't apply on Sundays: January 3 and 10.

Kejriwal said the policy incorporated suggestions from the Delhi High Court and the union home ministry and was also based on widespread consultations with experts.

"We appeal to residents of Delhi to make this odd-even four-vehicle plan a success so as to reduce air pollution which has assumed alarming proportions," he said.

"Without people's support, this will not be successful," he added. "We are doing this for our children, for our future, for our environment."

The Delhi government decided to drastically restrict the number of cars on the roads after repeated warnings from the judiciary about the soaring pollution levels. The Delhi High Court said the city had become akin to a "gas chamber".

Kejriwal said he and his ministers will abide by the restrictions but these won't apply to the president, vice president, prime minister, governors, Supreme Court judges, central ministers, chief ministers of states other than Delhi, diplomats as well as ambulances and police and fire service vehicles.

Cars propelled by compressed natural gas (CNG) will also be exempt and those ferrying physically challenged.

Delhi Water Minister Kapil Mishra told IANS: "I will either go for car pool or ride a bike."

Kejriwal appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to appeal to his ministers to support the plan.

"Women drivers or women with kids below 12 years will be exempted from the odd-even formula," he said. Those going to hospitals for medical emergency too will be exempted -- if they show proof.

The chief minister admitted that the public transport was not adequate to cope with the numbers who would have to leave their cars behind and urged motorists to go for car pooling.

"The pressure on public transport will be too much if everybody rushes to it. The practical solution is car pooling."

About 4-5,000 additional buses and 10,000 new auto-rickshaws will be added to the public transport, Kejriwal said. Authorities hope to increase the frequency of Delhi Metro trains.

Violators would be fined Rs.2,000.

IANS

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