New Delhi: The Delhi government on Sunday divided the week between vehicles with odd and even registration numbers, as Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur gave his backing to the landmark but controversial move aimed at battling rising air pollution in the national capital.
Public Works Department Minister Satyendra Jain announced that private vehicles with odd registration numbers will ply on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and those with even numbers on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from January 1. There was no decision regarding Sundays.
Jain made it clear that the scheme -- which when implemented would drastically reduce the number of vehicles on Delhi's choking roads -- can succeed only with people's support.
"We need public participation for this initiative to succeed," he said.
He told the media that the Delhi government would also strengthen public transport from January 1 so as not to put motorists in difficulties.
Jain spoke to the media here on the sidelines of a programme organised to pay tributes to Bhimrao Ambedkar on his 60th death anniversary.
A decision to ration road space was announced on Friday by the Delhi government after the Delhi High Court warned that the capital was becoming a virtual gas chamber.
Delhi has some 90 lakh registered vehicles, and about 1,500 are added on the roads every day.
The curbs won't apply to CNG-driven public transport vehicles including auto-rickshaws, taxis and buses.
Jain said the restrictions would apply to all ministers and bureaucrats too, and he would use his car on alternate days and go for car-pool during the rest of the week.
The minister, who also holds the health portfolio, said the pollution levels in Delhi were an "emergency" situation, leading to various health issues.
In a boost to the Delhi government, new Chief Justice T.S. Thakur said Supreme Court judges too want to help in curbing the alarming level of air pollution and he won't mind boarding a bus to reach the country's highest court.
He said if Supreme Court judges pooled cars, it would send the right message to the people.
"If a judge of Supreme Court can pool cars (with brother judges), it sends a message to the people that we have no problem," he told reporters. "We can walk down or even take a bus."
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal hailed Chief Justice Thakur for his support.
"(His) support to odd-even formula is welcome and a huge encouragement," Kejriwal said. "Supreme Court judges pooling cars would inspire millions to follow. Thank you My Lords."
The chief justice's comments came at a time when political parties opposed to Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party -- in contrast to environmental experts -- have hit out at the Delhi government for announcing a decision which they said would greatly inconvenience the public.
On Saturday, Kejriwal said he had been rushed into this decision because of judicial intervention and that the restrictions on cars would tried for 10 to 15 days to see if the programme can succeed.