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Gurgaon residents want Raahgiri back

The Raahgiri event was supposed to be stopped in March 2014 and resume in September, but as the event became popular it became an annual affair

gurgaon Updated: Oct 23, 2017 23:28 IST
Leena Dhankhar
Leena Dhankhar
Hindustan Times
Residents demand Rahgiri back,Last sunday Rahgiri was closed,Gurugram
The Raahgiri event used to be especially popular with children.(Sanjeev Verma/HT FILE PHOTO)

City residents want Raahgiri to return, saying it used to be the only Sunday fitness and entertainment routine that inspired them to take up physical activity in earnest. Last Sunday, October 22, was the last day of the event, as the organisers said they are not able to continue due to paucity of funds.

When the event started in November 2013 by a group of organisers and Gurgaon police, the plan was for it to be wound up after six months. The event was supposed to be stopped in March 2014 and resume in September after a long summer break. However, as the popularity of the event grew, the city police and administration decided to make Raahgiri a permanent affair.

“We have been trying to manage funds for a long time. We have worked with extremely low operation cost since the past one year, just so that the show could go on. However, we have run out of funds and cannot carry on any further. It really pains us but we have to stop Raahgiri for now. We will try to manage more funds and return, but we simply don’t have the means to hold the event right now. After last Sunday, we got several requests from people to continue the event. All we can say to them is that we are trying our best,” Sarika Panda Bhatt, member, trustee, The Raahgiri Foundation, said.

While urban transport experts agree that Raahgiri was a novel initiative that is being replicated in many cities across the country, it was not initially expected to run for so long and be a success. Similar events are currently being held in as many as 60 cities across the country.

Siddharth Gupta, a city resident who has been visiting Raahgiri events with his family members since it started, said that the street festival has been a hit with children. A range of events are designed in a way as to inspire them to take up a fitness routine.

“I was a regular every Sunday as I got to spend quality time with my children. My wife also enjoyed it, as the outdoor activities offered were fun,” Gupta said.

“It was a step in the direction of community building and sharing a common space for recreational activities. Raahgiri was a breath of fresh air with kids enjoying an open space and indulging in various activities. The end of Raahgiri has left a void. Gurgaon has lost its brand,” Sameera Satija, a resident of Sector 14, said.

Read I Raahgiri Day once more: Reclaim street in Gurgaon from Sunday

“Last time I attended a Raahgiri event, it seemed to lack the quality and enthusiasm among participants that we had come to associate with it. No sponsors were seen. Though I am not a regular at such events, it wasn't the same Raahgiri which used to be fun for children and their parents,” Amanpreet Kaur Chawla, a resident, said.

When Raahgiri started, the organisers had doubts if people would turn up in winter, as the temperature drops significantly. However, the maximum footfall of over 25,000 people was recorded in December 2013.

After being launched in Gurgaon, Raahgiri also found many takers in New Delhi, Ludhiana, Navi Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Bhopal.

Key objectives of Raahgiri include promotion of cycling, walking and use of public transport as envisaged in the National Urban Transport Policy (NUTP) and Integrated Mobility Plan for Gurgaon and encouraging residents to have a healthy and active lifestyle.

Raahgiri factfile

Length of stretch earmarked for Raahgiri is approximately 4.5 kilometers

Raahgiri Day was started for the first time in India in Gurgaon in November 2013. The event was planned on the lines of Cyclovia held every Sunday in Bogota, Colombia.

In December 2013, the Union ministry of urban development invited a Raahgiri team to present the concept at the annual Urban Mobility India conference in New Delhi.

In January 2014, Alok Mittal, then commissioner of police, Gurgaon, was selected by the Union ministry of urban development and World Bank to participate in the Urban Transport Conference in Singapore and share the details of Raahgir Day. He made a presentation on Raahgiri Day to over 50 participants from over 15 countries

In February 2014, Richard Stanley of Richard Stanley Production, an internationally acclaimed filmmaker who has been working on road safety issues, visited the city from London to shoot Raahgiri Day as an innovative piece in promoting road safety.

In April 2014, Raahgiri Day was chosen as one of the 24 most inspiring stories for “Pathways to Green Cities” by the Global Advisory Committee of The Earth Day Network, a Washington-based international non-profit organisation.

In May 2014, Raahgiri Day won an early entry prize as one of most innovative way to promote road safety at the UL and Ashoka’s Safer Roads, Safer India Challenge.

First Published: Oct 23, 2017 23:28 IST