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Londoners react to Delhi’s Odd/Even road strategy

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Indian capital New Delhi is going to implement a new rule which allows private vehicles with odd and even registration numbers to operate on alternate days to curb pollution. Kanwal Toor gets reactions from British-Indians. Is it a good idea for British capital to emulate the Indian capital?

car trafficFrom Jan 1st 2016 Delhi will introduce an audacious traffic calming/ pollution busting scheme, whereby half the City’s vehicles would be prohibited to ply each day, depending on whether their registration plates were odd or even. The Delhi High Court said that living in Delhi was like living in a “gas chamber.”

Now schemes like this are in play in other Cities around the world, Paris for example does this during “high pollution” days. So will Delhi be able to pull this off? “We’re talking about implementing this plan in a city where no is ready to follow basic traffic rules,” said a senior government official on the condition of anonymity.

And how will it be enforced, surely by some high tech automatic number plate recognition system which will have penalty notices dispatched to the rule breakers before they reach home for dinner that same evening. Nope. Sorry. The police will have to chase and stop the miscreants.  The Police Commissioner doesn’t seem overly enthusiastic at the prospect.

The scheme will initially be for a two week trial period, and the Delhi government has said, “If citizens find it very much inconvenient, it will be scrapped.”The aim of the scheme is to change the habits of commuters, be it car pooling or using public transport. And there’s the rub, the government simply hasn’t done enough to give people an alternative way of travelling, or of enforcing the rule in the first place.

It’s a noble idea, and one that if implemented properly would reap huge benefits. That’s a big “if.”

I spoke to a few Delhiites and Londoners to get their views and whether such a rule would work in London?

Rahul Munjal – MD Hero Future Energies

Rahul Munjal - MD Hero Future Energies
Rahul Munjal – MD Hero Future Energies

In the newspapers we read that about 20% of pollution is due to cars on Delhi roads. I think odd/ even will definitely be a good experiment to reduce this as the no. of the cars on the roads will be halved. Although there are several other measures which need to be taken which will have a greater effect i.e. the 40-50 thousand trucks that drive through Delhi should be asked to take alternative routes, burning of the crop beard in the neighbouring states although already illegal should be monitored properly, burning of waste in Delhi should also be monitored effectively. About 20% of Delhiites have cars so by inconveniencing a few people if we can reduce the pollution I think it’s justified. Also odd/ even exercise has brought the pollution problem in everybody’s notice and I think the people are better informed and will take other little steps in the homes or at work to be more sustainable.

Amrik Randhawa – Son of veteran actor Dara Singh, Entrepreneur

Amrik Randhawa – Son of veteran actor Dara Singh, Entrepreneur
Amrik Randhawa – Son of veteran actor Dara Singh, Entrepreneur

It’s an absurd idea. It has been successful in Singapore for over 20 years but impossible to implement in Delhi. They should put their resources in checking polluting vehicles and impounding those that do not pass the test. Half of Delhi’s cars and two wheelers will be impounded. Problem solved. This odd-even rule will only make people buy more cars. And cops will take more bribes.

Sukhvinder Gill – Finance Director

Sukhvinder Gill – Finance Director
Sukhvinder Gill – Finance Director

London has already taken measures to alleviate pollution and congestion. Don’t think Odd – even rule is required at the moment in London. I think for Delhi too without proper enforcement it’s a useless measure.

Deepali Nangia – Founder at Empower

Deepali Nangia - Founder at Empower
Deepali Nangia – Founder at Empower

I think it is an interesting idea to solve a big problem. Both data capture (monitoring odd and evens) needs to be thought through – will the city be using technology or people or a combination of both?  The biggest issue to me seems to be enforceability – how do you enforce something like this in a big city such as Delhi – I guess you implement it in certain parts of the city that are over congested and how do you punish the offenders?  Do you take away “their” (their driver’s) licenses or do you confiscate the vehicle (for citizens to bring out their other cars since most households offending I assume will have several cars).Enforceability would obviously be much higher in London, if to be implemented here.

Whether or not the controversial Odd- Even car rule will work in London – only time can tell. Do we really need it here though? Pollution and Traffic in London is nowhere near the appalling scenario of Delhi. It might not be the time for odd even car rule in London. Yet.

 

Kanwal Toor MA Psychology

Kanwal Toor
Kanwal Toor

Kanwal is a former Miss India International. She is mother of two & Founder/Trustee of CWC (Collective for women and children).