A lot of Delhites are not happy with the even-odd formula to be imposed on private vehicles from January 1. It will be immensely difficult for the lakhs of middle and lower middle class families having a car to adjust with the system. The family’s lone car, bought with bank loans yet to be repaid, has already made them averse to rubbing shoulders with common people in public transport. On the other hand, they cannot afford to hire a cab every alternate day! It is them who have to make maximum compromise. Their immediate concern is not health, but the car. Life has to go on, ‘smoothly’, till someone in the family becomes direct victim of vehicular pollution!

Although carpooling is slowly catching up in India, it has a long way to go to bring any significant relief to environment. The common ‘ego’ among Indians would always pose a hurdle. There are thousands of millionaires (in rupee terms) in the capital city. They already have one car, if not more, for every family member. Will they be going in others’ car or let others in their car? Very little chance! They will try to alternate the available cars in the family, or will go for another car and choose the number conveniently! This is skepticism. To contest this notion are the statements from the likes of Chief Justice of India HL Dattu, who said judges are ready for the new system. Was it a populist statement or we are really going to see two-three judges coming in one car is yet to be proven. Even Delhi transport minister Gopal Rai announced that all ministers and MLAs will obey the even-odd formula. This might inspire a lot of people. But there are hard nuts to crack.

Considering the exemptions to be given to commercial vehicles, emergency services, disabled and possibly women, and even VIP/VVIPs the even-odd formula will not bring down the traffic by more than 30 per cent. And going by the number of new vehicles hitting the road every day and the likely purchase of more vehicles due to the even-odd restriction, the traffic volume will become the same in a couple of years. The mammoth exercise, that will require huge additional deployment of traffic personnel, will thus prove futile very soon. But, this exercise which will cause pain for commuters will bring awareness in the process. People are expected to deeply feel the need to use green energy and maintain cleanliness.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on December 12, 2015)

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