Kejri’s politics of odd-even Andher Nagri, Chaupat Raja
Every citizen of Delhi would welcome any decision taken by the government to reduce pollution. But the story of odd-even is entirely different, which seemingly has not been introduced in the interest of the people, but for the vote-bank politics. The commitment of AAP to help auto-rickshaw owners and drivers is well known. The tie between AAP and app-based taxi operators has also been exposed now. The complaints against overcharge by the app-based taxi operators in the first phase of odd-even scheme, and also in the second phase were ignored by the Kejriwal government till the matter was moved to the High Court of Delhi. Similarly, no stringent action has been taken against the auto-rickshaws for overcharge. The most benefited from the odd-even formula are these two parties and the worst sufferers are the middle-class Delhiites.
Another seemingly foolish decision is that the vehicle carrying a student in uniform is exempted from odd-even scheme. This means that the person carrying the student to school should either park himself with the vehicle in the school or be ready for a challan on returning home. And when he goes back to pick up the student, he should again be prepared for another challan. Even more funny decision is that a lady driving with her school-going children is exempted but not with her old parents, in-laws or husband. She cannot carry them even to the hospital in emergency.
The government did not bother as to what the private car drivers would do on the unmatched days of the vehicle. The employer would cut their salary of the non-working days. An old saying is proving true: “Andher Nagri, Chaupat Raja” (When the king is dim-witted, there would be clutter all over). Furthermore, a recent decision by Kejriwal to reduce about 1.5 per cent vat on diesel is beyond one’s comprehension. This would encourage the people to travel by diesel cars rather than the petrol one. Let us take a broader perspective to these facts.
Gaffe on School Students
In the first phase of odd-even scheme, schools were kept closed in order to bring down pollution level and for earning accolades. Reduction in trips of buses and cars ferrying students was the important factor in bringing down the pollution level.
But there was loss of two weeks of study. If this scheme is implemented for the whole year, there would be loss of at least 20 weeks of study of the student. This would bring the Delhi student far lower in comparison to students of other parts of the country. Therefore, schools are not compulsorily closed in the second phase. Also in the first phase, school bus drivers, who were not entitled for the salary of the days they did not work, faced hardship. The teaching staffs got the furlough.
There was hardly 13 per cent fall in pollution during the first phase that too was mainly because of closer of schools. Reduction in trips of buses and cars carrying students was also helpful in avoiding jams and congestions. This allowed smooth running of traffic. The band masters of Kejri immediately started shouting about the success of the scheme and also giving press notes.
There is a large number of emergencies everyday and patients have to reach hospital at the earliest for the medical aid. Many patients of heart-attack, trauma, breathlessness, brain hemorrhage pass away for want of timely treatment. A large number of patients also come from NCR and neighbouring states to Delhi at an emergency regularly. Such patients are facing difficulties in reaching Delhi.
Heavy Manpower Loss
About eight highways join the Delhi borders from different states i.e. Haryana, UP, etc. The vehicles reaching the borders of Delhi on the mismatched day of odd and even have to be parked at the borders. Particularly those vehicles that reach around 5 pm prefer to wait for two-three hours and then enter Delhi after 8 pm to avoid the challan. On an average, there are about four hundred vehicles that get stuck on each of these highways in this manner. If we calculate four passengers on an average in a car, then it means there would be about 16,000 passengers getting struck all over. This means loss of at least 60,000 manpower hours. If the scheme is continued 10 times a year, there would be loss of six lakh manpower hours, which would push the country back in the global development competition.
Vote-Bank Politics of AAP
The biggest gainers are the app-based taxi and auto operators. The people have to hire these services at much higher rates. Auto and taxi drivers charge a huge amount during emergency or at an acute need of passengers.
The main cause of increase in pollution is the congestion and long traffic jams on roads. Vehicles that normally used to take 10 minutes to cover a distance of 8 kilometres now take about half an hour or so. More than a lakh vehicles have to remain on roads with their engine in start mode for the double time now vis-a-vis that in earlier times. This is the great national loss of manpower and fuel also. But no action is chalked out to reduce jam in the interest of vote-bank politics. Running hours of vehicles on roads could have been reduced to a large extent it if the the following measures had been taken.
- Auto-rickshaws should not be allowed to park on main roads at the entry of metro stations. They cover at least half of the road and thus create jams.
- Drinking water machines should be removed from main roads and footpaths. People standing around machines on roads cover the space and thereby create blockages.
- Fruit vendors on footpaths are another source that creates traffic jams. Owing to this factor, there is hardly any space left for pedestrians to walk. Many pedestrians including ladies, children and old persons have to walk on main roads and become the victim of accidents. Many children lose their life due to this reason.
- Illegal construction on footpaths and on connecting roads is one of the reasons for the road blocks. There is a large number of illegal constructions on the footpaths all over Delhi.
The government should concentrate on the removal of jams, blocks and congestion, which sometimes remain for many hours and create heavy pollution. Ensuring of halts of buses at proper places and parking of autos in parking areas, removal of illegal constructions and clearing of footpaths would remarkably bring down pollution.
Deployment of traffic police for smooth functioning of odd-even scheme gets busier with issuing challans rather than managing traffic, which is also one of the causes of jams. The exempted category by Kejriwal has been chosen carefully. Judges have been exempted but not doctors, whereas doctors are supposed to reach to different hospitals to save the life of patients, particularly super specialists. Could this be because Kejriwal was aware of the failure of the scheme and wanted to avoid any judicial interference?
Kejriwal was totally reluctant to take action against autos and app-based taxis for overcharging and kept silence until the matter was brought to the court. He is turning a blind eye on unauthorized fruit vendors, illegal construction on footpaths and illegal parkings at metro stations keeping an eye on the vote bank. Against this backdrop, it is no wonder that the odd-even scheme is unsuccessful in reaping the expected returns.
Most of the car owners have already started looking for buying a second car preferably a second hand one therfore the prices of the old cars have shot up just to the double. It is sure that after some time ,number of the vehicles on the road on the odd even days would almost be the same as on the other normal days. The sheme finally would prove more painful troublesome disastrous than the relief giving.
Dr. Vijay Khaira