Decision taken due to safety concern for women, but only a united effort can make Delhi pollution-free
GN Bureau | April 6, 2016
Women drivers have again been exempted from the second round of odd-even scheme that starts from April 15 and ends on April 30th. Gopal Rai, Delhi’s transport minister, said on Wednesday that the decision has been taken because of safety concern, while deputy chief minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia said that another category that has been exempted are the cars carrying student(s) in school uniform.
On Tuesday, Rai held consultations with different women organisations on the issue. Most participants favoured keeping women drivers out of the ambit of the scheme, citing security concerns.
Chairperson of Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) Swati Maliwal had also urged Gopal Rai to exempt women from the road-rationing scheme as the city's public transport is not in a good shape and safety for working women is an issue of concern.
During the first phase of odd-even scheme, which started on January 1 to 15 earlier this year, the government had granted exemptions to women and women drivers with children up to the age of 12.
Wednesday’s decision grants a privilege to women drivers and makes it easier for them to commute in cars, but the choice of exempting women from odd-even rule in Delhi is inconsistent with the aim to make Delhi pollution-free. Given that the main reason for the rule was to reduce vehicular pollution rather than reducing traffic congestion on roads, exempting women is not going to achieve that goal.
Furthermore, there are still many women who travel every day in public transport. The number of cars being driven by women also continues to be comparatively few in number.
The government has already made special provisions for women in public transport like reserving 50 percent seats for women in DTC buses. Apart from this, Delhi metro has already reserved the first coach of every train for women.
Besides, the exemption of CNG vehicles broadens the scope of using other means of transportation like autorickshaws and CNG-fuelled taxis and cabs. For this, the government has started PoochhO app, which helps commuters to contact taxi and autorickshaw drivers.
Carpooling is yet another option that women can use to commute, and many mobile apps are available which provide cab carpooling and services where one can get in touch with commuters sharing similar routes.
Also, a concern was raised that mothers have to pick up children from schools, hence their category should be exempted. The government has exempted cars carrying school children in uniform. This automatically exempts a category of cars from the ambit of the scheme.
It is time for Delhiites (both men and women) to take the extra step and look for alternatives to reduce vehicular pollution. Women should voluntarily follow the scheme to reduce vehicular pollution. Only a united effort will make the second round of odd-even a fruitful endeavour.
The ambiguity in the exemption for school children could prove to be a challenge for enforcement as many may claim to be picking up students to avoid penalty. This needs to be dealt with.
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