The Odd-Even Formula that was implemented by the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi Government on a trial basis since January 1st to January 15th is getting a mixed response from the common man or the aam aadmi. There are those who are happy with its implementation because of the reduced traffic on the roads and the time they are saving on their daily commute. And then there are those who are not very familiar with the public transport system and have had no choice but to opt for it who are not satisfied with the logic and the claims being made by the government. Their complaint is that not much has changed on the ground and that the government has failed to increase the number and frequency of public buses and the Metro as was promised and desired by people.
The Odd-Even formula was adopted by the government due to the rising air pollution in Delhi and its surrounding areas. The government believes that this policy could reduce pollution levels in Delhi and improve the air quality. The government recently also introduced a Delhi Car Free Day on the 22ndof each month.
It is not yet to be known whether this formula will work. The government has said that that the trial will last 15 days and after a review of its impact on air pollution levels, it will decide whether to introduce it, abandon it or expand it to include two-wheelers.
The common man is concerned too about his health although he may not be fully aware of how much air pollution affects his life. At the same time, he has no way of knowing whether the inconvenience caused by the formula is actually helping to reduce the pollution. The aam aadmi has to depend only on statistics provided by the government and other agencies which is not always easy to understand.
According to a survey conducted by the Hindustan Times and published in its January 15 edition 68 percent people of Delhi was in favour of the Odd-Even Formula to continue. Out of 15000 people who were part of the survey, 61 percent think that this formula is helpful to reduce pollution in the city and 67 percent was ready to pay congestion tax for the same.
There are debates about how the dust on the roads and factories cause more pollution than cars and about how two-wheelers are the bigger polluters.
The government should understand that there are multiple factors that have led to this alarming situation. And, of course, there is no single simple formula to deal with it. The government should ask itself why the number of cars in the city is increasing rampantly and not more people are opting to use the public transport system, especially the public buses.
Though the present bus service, including DTC and the orange cluster buses, is a big improvement from the Blue Line service of the past, a lot need to be done before it can meet the demands and expectations of Delhi’s common people.
The DTC or the cluster buses are far from being safe for women or child- and elderly-friendly. Unlike in Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru, the bus conductors in Delhi sit in their seat at the back of the bus and expect commuters to go to him to collect tickets. Sometimes people stand in the way and don’t let fellow passengers pass. On a crowded bus, women routinely face humiliation and are sometimes even ‘molested’ while trying to reach from one end of the bus to the other. In Delhi, the bus conductor is mere a ticket distributor, but in other cities, it is the job of the conductor to make sure passengers don’t misbehave.
The government must also ask itself why despite the many one-way roads and flyovers, there continue to be such massive traffic jams in Delhi. Sometimes it is the narrow stretches on main roads that slow down the movement of vehicles and cause traffic jams during peak hours. And in the event of a breakdown, the traffic department takes hours to remove vehicles of the road. And congestion due to unauthorised parking is yet another age-old problem.
It is the call of the hour to improve public conveyance for the convenience of the common people. And then we can begin to dream of a Delhi that is clean and healthy world class city.