The Delhi-Sonipat border these days witnesses some unusual activity with cars with lining up and waiting for the 8 pm odd-even deadline to be lifted. “Around 70 to 100 cars line up here between six and eight pm everyday.” said a police officer at the border. “Most of these vehicles belong to outsiders, because they are the ones who actually wait for the rule to end. Delhi residents returning from outside manage to slip through because they know inside routes, where there is no monitoring,” he added.
On Monday, as cars with odd number plates waited to make their way into the capital after 8 pm, many spent their time sipping tea at the dhabas and chatting with each other. There were others who stayed in their cars, watching movies or videos on their phones, tablets or laptops.
While some Delhi residents claimed the inconvenience was a small price to pay for the benefits the rule offered, outsiders strongly argued in favour of an exemption for them.
Sonraj Sharma (72) was one of the few Delhi residents who complained about the wait. Having already been on the road for 10 hours on his way to Delhi from Amritsar, he could feel the exhaustion setting in by 7 pm.
“Usually, we would have been home by four, but because of this rule we have been stopping regularly at dhabas on our way here to pass time… We must have wasted a total of 5 hours because of this rule, and at my age that is a fair bit of time,” he said.
Non-Delhi residents visiting or passing through the capital were also very vocal about their discontent. “We left Kashmir last night and have been on the road all day. Now we have to waste three hours here,” said Anil Siwal, a resident of Kashmir, who was on his way to Faridabad.
Karan Mittal, on his way from Amritsar to Aligarh, said, “They should let people from outside go through, or reduce the fine for them. We have only one vehicle, and our children have to be in school tomorrow morning, so we had to head home today.”
Food vendors at the border, however, had no reason to complain as they unanimously admitted that their business had improved, although not dramatically, because of the odd-even rule.
“We have seen an increase of Rs 500 to Rs 1000 because of people waiting here for hours…They inevitably come to us to buy something or the other,” said a food vendor.