Not to dampen his spirit, but Arvind Kejriwal is getting too happy too soon. The roads were relatively without usual commotion on January 1, 2016, because most were sleeping off their hangover after late night partying on New Year’s Eve. They didn’t turn up for work. World’s most polluted city, Delhi, will reveal its true character only on the second day, when normalcy returns.
Delhi’s odd-even plan for cars took off on Monday in a radical, Beijing-style step to cut down carbon emission. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal says he is “overwhelmed by the response.” Later in the day, Kejriwal referenced John Lennon’s words in his tweet: “You may say I’m a dreamer But I’m not the only 1 I hope someday you’ll join us.” Very romantic, but misleading.
While it is refreshing to note that many offices and residents’ associations arranged car-pools, it is equally important to understand the truth. A large number of offices and other institutions received minimal footfalls. Also, the schools are having winter vacation, which would have taken off substantial load off the traffic. The Delhi CM should remain cautiously optimistic, not overtly ecstatic. If Tuesday behaves like Monday, there is hope. But the collective effort on the part of the Government has been inspiring.
There were guns and roses, both. While cops naturally carried arms as part of their duty, Gandhigiri was on display at 200 locations in the city with civil defence volunteers offering roses to those violating odd-even rules. Delhi government has deployed around 10,000 volunteers with rose stems in their hands across the national capital to request violators to follow rules…a novel move in a city where guns are used more than flowers…
Interestingly, the first prosecution for violating the restrictions took place at ITO junction around 33 minutes after the rule was implemented at 8am. An even-number car was caught unawares and the driver ended up paying Rs. 2000. A BJP parliamentarian was fined, too.
It’s only a 15-day trial exercise, but even if only half the people follow the rule, the air quality will improve to a great extent.