NEW DELHI: Finally, after cribbing and protesting Delhi-ites have come on board. Only private vehicles with odd numbers were seen on the road with the odd defaulter looking more embarrassed than proud of breaking the law. More so as at least one of them was shown a thumbs down by a couple of cars passing by, and moved rather quickly from the main road on to a side street.

The doomsday pandits were proven wrong as Delhi took ownership of the odd-even number rule.Although this came into operation from 8a.m. enthusiastic volunteers were out at the crack of dawn, after a hectic night bringing in the New Year. Groups of young men and women appeared at several traffic points, smiling, and waving out to the cars as they passed by. Somehow the police also seemed to have swallowed its initial hostility to the idea of volunteers and at least those spoken to by The Citizen said that both sides were ‘cooperating’ in ensuring that the rule was enforced.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was the first to declare the scheme a success. And significantly the BJP also applauded the fact, maintaining that this could go a long way in easing the relentless smog that has covered the capital of India causing acute respiratory problems. Lakshmi, who travels 20 kilometres from North to South Delhi to work cleaning houses, said she had encountered no difficulties. She said more buses were running than usual, and the traffic had eased up so she covered the distance in far less time than usual. She knew all about the new rule, and said, “it is good, I hope it works.:

Pandey, a security guard at one of the buildings, came up to say that far fewer vehicles were on the road. Although more chartered buses, carrying a DTC logo, were visible on the roads. He said that he and his colleagues guarding neighbouring houses had been observing the roads and found that only odd number private cars were plying as per the January 1 rule. He said, “it is so surprising that all these rich people are following the rules, it is good.” And do you know why this is being done, “Han ji mausam acha ho jayega.”

Of course there were the cynics who said that the reduced traffic flow was because many offices were closed, and it was the morning after a long night. But the fact that only odd number cars could be seen on the roads was a testimony to the ‘success’ of the scheme.

Meanwhile Kejriwal is clear that this is not a permanent scheme, but will be used whenever pollution levels rise above normal range. He said that the government will assess the situation on January 15, and take a fresh call about measures to be adopted.

The enthusiasm amongst the young for the scheme was visible with Delhi University students cycling for the environment early January 1 morning. Violators were stopped at points by volunteers and the police who then issued chalans. Interestingly, photographs of such challaans were taken by the volunteers and passersby and posted on the social media in a name and shame response that seems to be having an impact already. Tweets of even numbered cars seen were posted along with photographs of the number plates making for easy action by the police.

Kejriwal himself car pooled with two other Ministers. Transport Minister Gopal Rai who has been working hard on this scheme, travelled by bus to check the situation for himself. The BJP that had been encouraging a hostile response, collapsed into appreciation within the first few hours with tweets and posts from local leaders congratulating the people of Delhi for making the scheme a success.