Terming Delhi’s first car-free day a “success” and the “beginning of a revolution”, Transport Minister Gopal Rai on Wednesday announced that the capital will witness another ‘car-free’ day soon.
The event will again be held in Dwarka on November 22 and unlike today — when it was observed only for half-a-day as it coincided with Dussehra — it will be an all-day affair. “Delhi needs a car-free day. Pollution levels are rising. People need to be aware of the poison we are breathing in everyday,” said Rai.
It was pointed out to the transport minister that while celebrating car-free day on a public holiday is comparatively easier, observing the day every month may end up inconveniencing the public.
“Zindagi ki chutti hoti jaa rahi hai. Ek din dene ke liye chutti ka intezaar karenge kya log (Our lifespan is eroding because of pollution. Will people wait for a public holiday to observe such a day),” he retorted.
Rai outlined plans to improve the services of the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC).
“We will procure 2,000 buses by the end of March. We will also introduce luxury buses with a higher tariff,” he said.
Rai also spoke about the need to generate awareness among people, so that they “willingly participate in car-free day”.
The minister undertook a ride in an air-conditioned DTC bus, along with the mediapersons covering the event. The bus was driven by Saritha, the DTC’s first woman driver.
However, despite the Delhi government’s claims, the stretch did not seem entirely free of cars; quite a few cars were spotted in the area.
“We cannot leave our businesses. We need to load and unload our material, and we need a car for that. Plus, many people have to travel across this stretch for work and a car saves us a lot of time” said a resident.
While the government had claimed earlier that it would not allow cars to ply on the stretch, Rai admitted that people cannot be forced to dump their cars.
Some AAP volunteers, deployed at different points on the stretch, tried some ‘Gandhigiri’ tactics for those who had paid no heed to the government’s
exhortations. “For those who are still bringing their cars, our volunteers have been stationed at each red light to present them with a rose, and a request to them to observe car-free days in the future,” said Rai.