Delhi’s third car-free day —the first to happen on a working day — kicked off on Tuesday with scores of people cycling on a usually packed stretch of Vikas Marg.
Tuesday’s car free day was also significant because the Capital is also gearing up for rolling out its odd-even car registration scheme on January 1 next year.
Delhi’s deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia marked the beginning of the day with a cycle rally from Laxmi Nagar metro station to Poorva Sanskritik Kendra via the Karkari Modh at 8am.
“I urge the people of Delhi to help us lower the alarming rise in pollution levels. We are confident that you all will come together and support the odd-even rule to make a significant improvement in the city’s air quality,” Sisodia said.
In the absence of chief minister Arvind Kejriwal — who could not attend the rally as he was unwell — Sisodia relaunched the government’s PoochhO to strengthen the city’s public transport system. The app was first launched in July last year but was ineffective due to technical glitches.
On Tuesday, a number of school children, senior citizens and corporate leaders pedalled on Vikas Marg with placards emphasising the need for a cleaner environment.
“The government has finally started taking interest in the environmental issues. But they will not be able to do anything single-handedly. It is high time we give up our habit of compulsorily travelling in private vehicles and hop onto buses, Metros and autos,” said 65-year-old Mahinder Kumar, who had pedaled all the way from south Delhi’s Vasant Kunj.
Transport minister Gopal Rai said though this was the third time that the car-free day had been successfully organised, it was the first time the event actually stood a test.
“It was a weekday and this stretch experiences a heavy of vehicles during peak office hours. But looking at the response we received from the public, we know that the people of Delhi are as determined to bring down the pollution as we are,” Rai said.
The stretch saw heavy deployment of traffic personnel along with volunteers who steered private vehicles away. Though the event was marked as voluntary, vehicles were mandatorily asked to take alternative routes, causing traffic jams in surrounding areas.