Delhi to go ‘Car-Free’ on January 22: Kejriwal

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal participates in the cycle rally to mark car-free day in Dwarka, New Delhi on Sunday. Photo: Sandeep Saxena

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal participates in the cycle rally to mark car-free day in Dwarka, New Delhi on Sunday. Photo: Sandeep Saxena   | Photo Credit: Sandeep_Saxena


The entire Capital and not a selected stretch or location – as has been the case on two car-free days in the city so far -- will forego private four wheelers on January 22 next year, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced on Sunday, even as his government’s effort to impose a congestion charge on private car users is understood to have gained impetus.

A source close to Mr. Kejriwal said the announcement was in line with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government's resolve to “toughen” its stand against “owners of private vehicles unwilling to fall in line with its vision of making the Capital's streets more friendly for the average pedestrian and its air more breathable”.

The third car-free day is scheduled to be observed in East Delhi’s bustling residential-cum-commercial enclave Patparganj, which is also Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia's constituency, on December 22.

After leading a cycle rally on the 6-km-long stretch, chosen for the second car-free day exercise, in Dwarka in south-west Delhi on Sunday, Mr. Kejriwal declared that he would use the same mode of transport to reach his office on the first car-free day of 2016 and exhorted Delhiites to do the same.

“We will organise this (a car-free day) in entire Delhi on January 22 and I am very sure that we will succeed (in our attempt to reduce air pollution)... I will also cycle to my office on January 22,” Mr. Kejriwal told a gathering in Dwarka.

Transport Minister Gopal Rai said the government would appeal to the people to use cycles or public transport to commute to their respective offices on January 22. The government will also organise cycle rallies on separate stretches on the day in keeping with the practice followed so far, he added.

The Delhi government has made up its mind to take the enforcement route to reduce vehicular traffic on city roads. According to a source close to Mr. Kejriwal, the AAP government has stepped up efforts needed to institutionalise measures, including imposing a congestion charge and car-pooling, to dissuade owners of private cars from taking their vehicle out, in addition to adding more buses to the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC).

The Hindu had reported on November 5 that the AAP government is mulling imposing a congestion tax as part of its effort to overhaul Delhi's existing public transportation system.

The car-free day in Dwarka on Sunday received a poor response from drivers as only a few agreed to stay off the 6-km-long stretch despite repeated requests. The AAP volunteers folded hands in front of the drivers and even formed human chain at one location in their bid to keep the road car-free, but not to much avail.

The initial first two hours of the eight-hour-long exercise appeared fruitful. However, as hours went by, the enthusiasm among people dipped and many car drivers refused to oblige and take an alternative route.

A lawyer was seen threatening to sue a group of volunteers. Most others drove off saying they would oblige the day the exercise was made compulsory.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 12:13:29 AM |

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