Odd Even Part II

There has been a lot of criticism of the odd even program when it was introduced for the second time in the month of April, 2016. Many had questioned effectiveness of the program both to decongest Delhi roads as well as to bring down pollution. 

I am a firm believer in road rationing and Odd – Even program to that cause. Roads in Delhi, and for that matter in most Indian big cities, are heavily congested. It takes inordinate amount of time to travel from point A to point B. There is no guarantee that one can reach a meeting on time unless one starts with a lot of time in hand. Or one hires a driver that can drive like a maniac through maddening crowd mechanised vehicles. During first phase of odd – even scheme, there was visible benefits, both tangible and intangible that could be counted as follows:

1. Travel time, from home to office and back, had reduced;
2. Commuters were less stressed;
3. There was less incidence of road rage;
4. People had more time at hand to engage in physical activity, if they reached home early. This had effect on health of people.
5. Less number of cars on the road, would eventually translate into less pollution over a period of time.
6. Less number of cars mean less fuel consumption, less import bill and better health of foreign exchange reserve.
7. Law enforcement officials were less stressed;

It became apparent that the effect of Odd – Even scheme on environment pollution was minimal. Because there are several factors that contribute to air pollution. Nevertheless, road decongestion is as important and may have benefits in the long run on health and well being of citizens. 

Then question comes, why second phase of  Odd – Even scheme has come for criticism? Experts believe that Odd – Even scheme cannot be introduced without a solid public transport infrastructure in place. Delhi may have metro rail, yet metro is extremely crowded for many peoples comfort. 

Even lieutenant governor of Delhi, while praising Delhi chief minister for his courage to execute Odd – Even scheme in Delhi, had said in a TV interview that permanent Odd – Even scheme implementation in Delhi will put a huge amount of pressure on public infrastructure and safety margin of public utilities like Delhi Metro may be compromised.

Without efficient and reliable public transport system, Odd Even scheme has to rely on peoples cooperation. In this searing heat of April 2016, many people did not cooperate. Taxi companies like Ola and Uber were charging more. Many people acquired CNG sticker by paying bribe and brough odd car on road on an even day. Because CNG cars were exempted by government. Many people contemplated and bought a second car or a second hand car with either odd or even number plate.

Experts believe, Odd Even scheme must be employed only on a temporary basis. That way, citizens do not find a way to adapt to the system. Many leading cities of the world, like Beijing, used Odd Even scheme only as a temporary solution and back it up with a strong public transport system.

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