Delhi embraces odd-even scheme, BJP MP among 710 fined (Intro Roundup)

New Delhi, April 18 (IANS) The second phase of Delhi’s odd-even traffic scheme was a success on its first full working day on Monday, the city government said. BJP parliamentarian Vijay Goel, who flouted it to protest against what he said was “needless expenditure” on its promotion, was among 710 motorists fined on the day.

Hundreds of thousands of diesel and petrol driven private four-wheelers, mainly cars, with odd registration numbers stayed off the roads from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. as part of the scheme aimed at curbing pollution.

Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai said after a bus ride earlier in the day that “the people of Delhi have voluntarily accepted the (second phase of the) scheme too”. The first phase ran from January 1 to 15.

He said there were apprehensions about Monday since it was the first working day after the second phase began on April 15, which was a government holiday on account of Ram Navami. “Fortunately, everything is satisfactory,” he said.

The one problem that cropped up was over-charging by app-based taxi aggregators, including Ola and Uber, taking advantage of the rising demand for cabs by those who did not use their cars.

As the anger against the companies mounted on social media, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal threatened “strict action”, including impounding of erring cabs.

Transport Minister Rai said the licences of the erring taxi drivers would be seized and their permits cancelled.

The threat had an immediate effect. Uber and Ola suspended surge pricing.

“Given the threat to the livelihood of our partners, at the expense of reliability, we are temporarily suspending surge with immediate effect,” Uber said.

Former Delhi BJP president Vijay Goel became the first politician to violate the odd-even restrictions, under which diesel and petrol driven private four-wheelers with odd registration numbers will ply on odd dates and those with even registration numbers on even dates.

As he drove out of his house on Ashoka Road in a car with an odd registration number, police promptly pulled him up.

He was fined Rs.2,000 for violating the odd-even scheme, Rs.1,000 for not having insurance papers for his car and Rs.500 for not carrying a driver’s licence. Goel paid up in cash.

Goel said his action was to protest against the way Kejriwal was being promoted in the advertisements espousing the odd-even scheme.

Goel refused to bend when Transport Minister Rai met him and urged him not to break the rules as it would send a wrong message to the public.

He was not the only one. A total of 710 motorists were challaned till 8 p.m. — 256 by police and 454 by the transport department’s enforcement wing.

The city government’s transport department fined another 196 motorists till 2 p.m.

This was, however, a sharp drop from the 1,714 violations on Friday and Saturday.

According to data provided by Delhi Metro, total ridership on Monday was recorded at 22.73 lakh compared to last Monday’s 22.53 lakh.

The Delhi High Court issued notice to the city government on a fresh plea against Ola and Uber for over-charging.

The odd-even scheme is not applicable to vehicles using compressed natural gas, two-wheelers, women motorists and several categories of VIPs.

The Delhi Pollution Control Committee reported that the PM 2.5 levels fell to less than 60 — the permissible limit — in 42 of the 74 locations where it monitored pollution levels.

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