The odd-even scheme that had a successful run in the national capital is nearing towards its second season. Under the tutelage of the Kejriwal government, the whole of Delhi came together and welcomed the first phase of the odd-even plan. It brought down the levels of pollution significantly.
According to the data collected by the air quality monitoring vans, within nine days of its implementation, Delhi showed a laudable improvement in its air quality. Transport minister Gopal Rai said that as much as 30 per cent improvement in the quality of air had been sighted. The state government had also updated the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) that as many as 60,000 cars had converted to compressed natural gas (CNG).
In view of the fruitful trial and the need to curb pollution once more, the government has decided to bring in the second part of the 15-day trial starting April 15. Just like the first phase, the odd-even rule’s second phase is likely to exempt female drivers and two-wheelers. There, however, stand unanswered questions that Delhi demands answers of.
The first being, which bracket do chauffeur-driven cars fit in. Like others, a chauffeur is also employed and paid on a monthly basis, inclusive of annual bonuses and increments. A chauffeur’s employment term also includes their holidays, leaves and occasions they have worked overtime. If they work a month, they get paid accordingly and if they work less and their entitled leaves have lapsed, their salary is deducted proportionately.
Now, because of the odd-even rule, a chauffeur is required to work only half a month, when they are available for the whole month. They do not need additional leave and therefore, no deduction in pay is contractually permissible. This, despite the employer being compelled to impose an additional financial burden on self in the quest to find alternative modes of commuting. Why should the employer be penalized with this extra expense? It is not a win-win situation for him since he is not saving anything. Will the government compensate him? Or will his employers reimburse his supplementary expenses?
Furthermore, there is no clear view on the ferrying of school children. In order to strengthen the public transport, 3,000 private buses were hired in first trial run of the scheme. Schools were ordered to remain close between January 1 and January 15, so that their buses could be used in public transport service. Akin to that, the second phase will start when most schools will be done with their annual and board examinations and the students will be home. Coincidentally perhaps, but the government chose both the periods tactfully.
It stands interesting to see how the scheme will perform when there will be long working spells, a fresh rise in pollution and no improvement in public transport.