Delhi launched its first ‘Car-Free Day’ on Thursday with chief minister Arvind Kejriwal leading a cycle rally and over 100 cyclists taking part in the event that aims to encourage people to use public transport.
Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, other cabinet ministers, chief secretary and bureaucrats also participated in the rally.
Kejriwal rode a bicycle from the Red Fort to Bhagwan Das Marg -- a stretch that will remain car-free till Thursday noon -- and appealed to participants to make bicycle-riding a habit.
Watch | Kejriwal leads cycle rally to mark Delhi’s first car-free day
“People should leave their vehicles and use public transport. Since pollution is increasing in Delhi, there is a need to cycle which is also good for health,” he said.
The chief minister said he is a diabetic and riding a bicycle benefits his health. He also called on people to make Delhi’s roads safer and said his government is working on a project to redesign them.
“I met DMRC chief, asked him to increase frequency of trains and also give a proposal to us to make every train an 8 compartment train,” the Aam Aadmi Party leader told ANI.
Transport minister Gopal Rai, who is the brain behind the event, had said on Wednesday that under the ‘Ab Bus Karein’ campaign, the government was organising such events on the 22nd day of every month.
Rai said the Delhi government has also made parking arrangements at Red Fort, Chandni Chowk, India Gate and near Supreme Court for Thursday’s event to make it easier for participants.
“We want to encourage people to use buses, metro, auto rickshaws and other public transport mode so that pollution level could be brought down in Delhi. Cars are one of the major sources of pollution in the national Capital,” the transport minister said on Wednesday, adding that there are around 90,000 cars registered with the transport department.
“A comprehensive anti-pollution drive has been started and 693 pollution checking centres have been connected with an online server that will update the PUC certification issuance on real-time basis. In the next three months, cameras will be installed at a few locations on a pilot basis to identify the vehicles that have not obtained the PUC certificates,” Rai added.
The earlier route had included the Tilak Marg-C-Hexagon but looking at the volume of traffic, the course was reduced.
Dussehra falls on October 22 and due to VIP movement on the day, the government decided to observe car-free day till 12 noon. From next month, the entire day will be car-free on certain stretches.
“The government ran a campaign to make people aware about congestion and pollution-free Delhi. We will involve different departments, including pollution and transport, Delhi Police, NCC, NGOs and volunteers,” Rai added.
Earlier this month, police commissioner BS Bassi had denied permission to the Delhi government to hold the programme, citing that the latter did not consult with the force before taking such a decision.
However, the permission to host ‘Car-Free Day’ was later given after Lt Governor Najeeb Jung intervened in the matter.
(With inputs from ANI and PTI)