New Delhi, Policenama Online – The announcement of the relaunch of the odd-even scheme in Delhi evoked criticism for Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, with the opposition calling it “election stunt” and drama. While the Congress said Kejriwal made the announcement to divert the attention of the people from other pressing problems affecting the people of the national capital, the BJP termed the plan a drama and poll stunt.
Kejriwal announced on September 13 the relaunch of the odd-even scheme in Delhi between November 4 and 15, saying it will be one of the seven measures taken by the government to check air pollution in the city due to crop stubble burning in Haryana and Punjab.
Reacting to the announcement, Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said the step was not necessary.”I don’t think it is necessary. We have made a new Ring Road, and with that Delhi’s pollution has come down a lot. And in my estimate in two years…Rs 50,000 crore has been provided by my department, and the Yamuna Clean Water and Clean Air Scheme are going on, and with that, in two years Delhi will be pollution-free.”
BJP Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Goel said people will oppose the scheme. “With just four months to elections, Kejriwal government has now woken up to pollution. It is merely a political stunt. Kejriwal did not do anything to reduce pollution in the last five years and is all of a sudden talking about distributing masks, odd-even scheme etc.” Goel, the former President of Delhi BJP, gave the credit of reduction in pollution to BJP in power in Centre and MCD.
“Whatever pollution levels have reduced in Delhi is the result of efforts of Central Government. It the Central Government which constructed the Eastern-Western Highway which has diverted the route of 60,000 vehicles outside Delhi, Meerut Expressway, Dhaula Kuan loops etc.
“Now the rolling out of BS VI norms in Delhi is also a Central Government scheme. It is the Central Government and MCD which have ordered barricades around construction sites to reduce dust particles, and shifting of brick kilns to greener technology. Altogether, the Kejriwal government has not taken any steps against pollution. Even today Delhi’s pollution problem has not been solved,” Goel said.
He said the “odd-even drama” was first time done in 2016 and only four-wheelers were prohibited.
“Private and government buses, two-wheelers, three-wheelers, vehicles driven by women were permitted to operate. The reports released by the Central government and CPCB at that time had observed that odd-even had zero impact on reducing the pollution levels.”
Goel called it a drama and an election stunt.
“Kejriwal is declaring these schemes out of desperation and despair and is hoping to fool the people of Delhi.” BJP Delhi chief Manoj Tiwari also echoed Goel and gave the credit of reduction in pollution to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Implementation of odd-even without any improvement in the public transport system is a punishment for the people,” Tiwari said. Tiwari even wrote to Kejriwal, saying the decision has been taken without proper thought.
“In the interest of the people of Delhi, I urge you to rethink over this decision of implementing odd-even scheme and kindly spare Delhiites unnecessary hassles they would be subjected to with this move,” Tiwari said in his letter dated September 14. Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee Working Committee Presidents Haroon Yusuf and Rajesh Lilothia also attacked the Kejriwal government, saying the decision to implement the odd-even scheme on Delhi roads between November 4 and 15, 2019 was yet another ploy to divert the attention of the people from other pressing problems affecting the people of Delhi.
“Kejriwal thinks that like a magician who waves his magic wand to create illusions, he can remove the pollution and traffic problems in Delhi by bringing back the odd-even scheme, but they were not the answers to the pollution problem in Delhi,” Yusuf said.He said that Kejriwal has been “squandering the tax-payers’ money to put out advertisements in newspapers that pollution levels in the capital have been reduced by 25 per cent, then what was the need for yet another odd-even scheme in Delhi?
“This means that the AAP Government has been wasting the public money for Kejriwal’s personal publicity.”Yusuf also said that Kejriwal had also promised that the PWD roads in Delhi will be cleaned by mechanical sweepers and water will be sprinkled on it, but the people of Delhi are yet to see the roads being swept by mechanical sweepers. “Delhi roads have now become full of potholes and mechanical sweepers will not be effective on such roads.”
Lilothia countered the scheme saying the odd-even scheme will not reduce air pollution much in Delhi “as only 14 per cent contributes to the air pollution from vehicular traffic while 56 per cent pollution comes from dust”.He said the Delhi government has been collecting Rs 700 to Rs 2,500 per vehicle for entering Delhi as anti-pollution fee.
It has collected over Rs 1,500 crore on this account, Lilothia said and asked “what has the Kejriwal government done with that money?”He recalled that when the Congress was in power in Delhi under the leadership of Sheila Dikshit, a campaign “Meri Dilli, Hari Bhari Dilli” was started to improve the green cover in the capital and also to reduce pollution.
“But during the AAP government, the green cover has been drastically reduced as 1,60,000 trees have been cut in the last four and a half years, exposing Delhi to severe air pollution.The pollutions levels can effectively be checked in Delhi only by increasing the green cover and checking the levels of dust pollution,” Lilothia added.
The Aam Aadmi Party, on the other hand, said the odd-even scheme has been announced to make Delhi pollution-free and the BJP should cooperate in this campaign.
Aam Aadmi Party’s national spokesperson Atishi said various types of measures have reduced pollution levels in Delhi by 25 per cent.
“To reduce this pollution further, Delhi government is working with the Central government and Municipal Corporation to form new policies,” she told media.
She urged the BJP to cooperate with the Delhi government in this campaign to save the people of Delhi “because pollution does not see who is the leader of Aam Aadmi Party and who is the leader of BJP. Pollution is harmful to everyone’s health. This is the campaign of the people of Delhi and the people of Delhi want that all the people come together to take whatever possible measures to fight this pollution problem.”