Why even traffic police commissioner was surprised to see how Delhiites responded to odd-even formula

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Nishant Gambhir

1 January 2016 brought back the nervousness I had last felt during my high school CBSE exams with the anxiety levels being very high.

Why all this anxiety? Because, the much talked about odd-even scheme was to begin on the first day of January.

Although, I have no connection with or role in the Delhi government, the ruling party (Aam Aadmi Party) or any of the departments involved in this rationing of cars in Delhi, my anxiety was as high as anyone in any of the above mentioned agencies. I even wrote a about it.

Why was I anxious? Because, my city Delhi was going to take an examination!

An examination, which many cities which are touted as ‘global cities’ had failed! As someone who has grown up in Delhi and is immensely attached to the city, I did not want this city to fail this test.

I did not want the stereotype of Delhites being ignorant and arrogant to be proven true. I was worried that people would not follow the rationing and the Odd-Even scheme would die an untimely death.

Failure would be disastrous, not only for the political situation in Delhi, but even for the society at large. The political opposition (BJP and Congress) would have a field day blaming the ruling party (Aam Aadmi Party) using ‘I told you so’ jibes against the ruling party (Aam Aadmi Party) and Arvind Kejriwal government would be left in a pile of disarray and confusion about controlling the rising air pollution in Delhi.

People of Delhi in general would be dejected and disappointed, brining about a feeling of gloom and hopelessness, exactly opposite to what is needed to combat the silent killer- pollution.

Further, the precedent set by the capital would be an unfortunate one, tarnishing the city’s image across India and the world.

However, Delhi did not disappoint! At around noon on January first reports started coming that people were responding well to the Odd-Even rule.

The opposition parties conveniently said that it’s a holiday and the city would collapse on Monday (January 4), resulting in failure of this plan!

Delhi was not going to give the opposition what they wanted, Delhi was going to stand up hand in hand with police and the government and make this plan a success!

I too was surprised on Monday (4 January) when I reached my destination in Noida from Central Delhi in just 23 minutes, a journey which usually took me 70 minutes. This was magic! I only spotted around ten violators through the day, this did make me feel proud to be a Delhite. The plan which was touted as stupid and impossible was working, Delhi was fighting the stereotype and making a point to the world.

Through the next 11 days, the rule was wholly followed by all Delhites. I being actively involved with the people of Delhi because of my role at Lex Do It, I was interacting with a large number of people, Delhi Police and Delhi government.  The response was very promising.

The feeling was unmatched, it was something similar to what a school student feels when he sees the exam questions and realises that he knows them all, yes it’s an ecstatic feeling!

I decided to compile a short report on the Odd-Even Scheme in which we interacted with a lot of people in Delhi. We even spoke to Delhi Traffic Police Commissioner – Dr. Muktesh Chander who was equally surprised about Delhi’s compliance levels.

The first instalment of the Odd-Even Scheme ended and the Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal declaring it a success. Who would disagree? Not even the opposition. He further promised to bring it back in an improved form.

Thank you Delhi! You make me proud to be a Delhite.

Nishant Gambhir is the founder of Lex Do, social enterprise working towards legal rights education

(Photo: Courtesy NDTV)

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