Ashutosh in Odd/even car policy
The Metro gave me the opportunity to read books and newspapers. It is also an opportunity to check mails and send out replies on time! I got to know the true feelings of people, specially during the 2015 Delhi elections campaign. People used to be surprised to see me traveling by metro. After some time, it was business usual, and now I alternate between a car and the metro. I can understand that this scheme can seem disruptive. For car-owners used to a kind of lifestyle, they will find it difficult to adjust to a new routine and life in a metro. But let me tell you all that the Delhi government is not the first in the world trying to implement this.
Very recently, in March 2014, Paris experimented with this idea. According to The Guardian newspaper, "The French government reacted to dangerous levels of pollution by requiring cars with license plates ending with even numbers to stay off the road. Nearly 4,000 fines were issued to drivers who flaunted the restrictions." This helped in controlling pollution. The Chinese capital, Beijing, banned cars during its 2008 Olympic Games on the basis of odd - even numbers with some success. In a state of very high level of pollution Beijing, tried it again in 2013. Along with this, other measures were also taken by the Chinese government like destroying 500 open air barbecues and shutting down polluting industries. And the study showed that during the Olympics, the pollution was cut down by 20%.
Mexico City had a more interesting scheme. Instead of odd and even numbers, it tried to have cars with a particular last number off the roads on a particular day. For example, a car with a number plate ending with 5 and 6 would not run on Monday; a car number with 8 and 9 would be grounded on Tuesday. This scheme was introduced way back in 1989. Columbian city Bogota also got inspired from Mexico City. As per reports, Bogota tried to improve on Mexico City by "switching the combinations of days and numbers every year, making it difficult to circumvent it by buying another car." Even in India, the city of Jind in Haryana tried this at a limited level. The city administration banned autos with odd-even numbers on alternate days with great success. According to District Magistrate Vinay Singh, "It not only improved emission quality but also reduced chaos on the road and accidents."
There are analysts who claim that this scheme is not 100% successful, and it is more suited for use on a short-term basis to deal with an emergency situation like Beijing's in 2013. Or maybe have it once or twice a week. The Delhi government has also decided to first start with a 15-day exercise starting on January 1, and then there will be a review to work out the future modalities and its spread across the remaining period. I can understand that it's a tough call and it's a very challenging task for the government and also for the people of Delhi.
Delhizens are justified in complaining that public transport is not up to global standards. I am not making excuses, but similar arguments were given in China when the odd-even policy was implemented in Beijing. I can say with confidence that Delhi is not too bad either. The frequency of metro trains has to be increased along with an increase in the number of compartments from 6 to 8. Last-mile connectivity has to be augmented. The number of public or DTC buses has to be increased manifold. These are not easy tasks, but there were arguments given when in the mid-90s, the Supreme Court under Justice Kuldeep Singh ordered that in Delhi, commercial vehicles would have to switch to CNG. I was a young reporter then and we all thought it would be impossible to implement this law. But after almost 20 years, CNG stations are seen everywhere and even private vehicles run on CNG. So this scheme is not impossible, but yes, this requires a change of mindset at every level. Because finally we all wish to live with clean air and don't want future generations to live with breathing masks.
Life in a metro would be better than life in a gas chamber. more