Rai declares odd-even a success, Uber says it ran fewer cabs (Roundup)

New Delhi, April 19 (IANS) The fifth day of the Delhi government’s odd-even traffic scheme saw Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai declaring it a “success story so far” even as online app-based taxi operator Uber sought to blame the Delhi government for a shortage of its cars to serve commuters.

The Delhi government said 18 taxis belonging to Ola and Uber have been impounded for over-charging commuters.

Rai said the transport department had on Monday evening impounded 18 vehicles of Ola and Uber for over-charging and permit violation.

“The action was taken after commuters complained on the helpline provided by the Delhi government,” Rai said.

On Tuesday, Uber ran a message: “Dear rider, if you are seeing no cars available or longer wait time, that’s because of suspension of surge. Surge ensures there is a car availability at all time.”

In a related development, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal termed as “bizarre” the reports that pollution levels in the city had increased despite fewer number of vehicles plying on the roads. But, the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), which is under the union government’s ministry of Earth Sciences, said the pollution level in the capital increased on Tuesday as compared to Monday.

The SAFAR in its website said the PM 2.5 level was 124.6 and PM 10 was 275.1 for Tuesday as against Monday’s 75.4 (PM 2.5 level) and 202.4 (PM 10 level).

However, Delhi Transport Minister Rai was happy with the progress of the odd-even. He told reporters that the second phase of the odd-even traffic scheme “has been a success story so far”.

Making a veiled attack on political rivals especially the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Rai said “people of Delhi have given an answer to those who wanted to sabotage the odd-even scheme aimed at battling pollution”.

Unlike Monday, there was no political controversy on the streets on Tuesday.

On Monday, BJP MP Vijay Goel had openly challenged the scheme and was fined for flouting traffic rules.

The transport minister said there were more challenges to face in this phase as compared to the last phase in January when schools had been declared closed during the fortnight.

“People of Delhi are giving their full cooperation and for this we congratulate them,” he said.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday had threatened “strict action” in the wake of complaints of “surge pricing” by the taxi operators

Some parents were facing a problem bringing their wards from school due to the odd-even. The city government has asked them to car-pool to bring their wards from school. Some schools had declared Tuesday a holiday on account of Mahavir Jayanti, which is being observed by most school on Wednesday.

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