New Delhi, Oct 22 (IANS) Delhi hosted its first Car Free Day on Thursday, but it was not as if no car plied on the 6.5-km stretch between the 17th century Red Fort in Old Delhi and India Gate where Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal led a cycle rally.
The government also announced Dwarka in west Delhi as the next venue for the Car Free Day which it has decided to organise on the 22nd of every month in a symbolic move to battle the increasing pollution in the capital.
“Travelling on Delhi’s roads needs to be made safe. A diabetic like me benefits from cycling but there is too much congestion and pollution,” Kejriwal said before the start of the rally.
Joined by around 400 people, including cabinet ministers and bureaucrats, Kejriwal, who sported a white T-shirt with a logo that read car-free day, was mobbed by photographers at the venue.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Tourism Minister Kapil Mishra were seen cycling enthusiastically at the rally which ended on Bhagwan Das Road near India Gate.
By 11 a.m., cars were seen plying on the stretch again although the event was supposed to continue till noon.
“This is a good beginning. We did not ban cars. Those who are still driving the car are being greeted with roses,” said Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai while surveying the stretch from a Delhi Transport Corporation bus.
“The next Car Free Day will be held in Dwarka,” Rai announced.
“People need to give up their cars for one day. If they can’t do it, they are not serious about their life,” he added.
Around 84 lakh vehicles ply in Delhi every day, contributing to its chaotic traffic and worsening quality of air.
A cyclist, Puneet, in his 40s, lauded the government’s efforts and urged it to hold the rally on Sundays.
“If you want to hold Car Free Day, organise it on a weekend. But I am happy that the government organised it,” Puneet said.