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Is Delhi ready for its 1st ‘car-free morning’?

New Delhi, Oct 22 : In the wake of rising air pollution in the National Capital Region (NCR), the Delhi Government declared the stretch between Red Fort and India Gate ‘car-free’ from 7 am till noon on October 22. But one question lingers, “is Delhi ready for it 1st car-free day?”

The state government’s intensive campaign for traffic decongestion and reduction in air pollution, titled “Ab Bus Karen,” may be a humble beginning towards getting people to use public transport, but many feel that the decision to observe a car-free day on Dussehra is “hasty and impractical” as doing so would cause chaos.

On being asked about their takes on this initiative a day before, very few people actually knew about the gambit. Out of these many, only few were happy and showed support by agreeing to give up their cars for a day, while others countered the government’s stance asking whether or not it will be of any help.

“That’s a great initiative I must say as India is really crowded and in most of the cases if the public transport is good, then we can take this initiative ahead also. Cycling is anytime great if there is a track,” said a car user Abhishek.

“I would love to see this place (Red Fort) without cars, but please remove buses as well. Metro is good enough,” said a female car user, while another car owner noted: “I think there will be less traffic and less noise and air pollution tomorrow, but it’ll be just for the Central Delhi.”

Claiming that this initiative will not bear any fruit, the auto-drivers and rickshaw pullers were less enthusiastic about the whole thing. Tourists were more worried about the “inconvenience” and less excited about Delhi’s big step in the fight against pollution.

One of the auto-drivers said: “Car free day won’t make any difference as it’s only for half a day. As it is, the stretch will remain crowded because of Ram Leela and Dussehra.”

According to a tourist, J. K., “Car-free day is a good thing. It should take place, but you should think about the tourists coming from outside as well. What options have you kept for them? After 12:00 pm it will get crowded because of Dussehra. They (government) should have held it on some other day. It should happen on Sundays, not on the week days or running days.”

The government also proposed a cycle rally on the same day on the car-free zone. To gauge the result of the campaign, the pollution level of the stretch from Red Fort to India Gate will be checked before and after observing the car-free day.

The inspiration comes from Gurgaon, which held its first car-free day on September 22, known on the Internet as World Car Free Day, in a bid to lower pollution and emphasise on the need to promote use of cycle and carpooling.

Delhi has recently become the face of air pollution, which is caused mainly by industry and vehicular traffic, putting as many as 10,000 people at ‘premature death by breath’ risk per year.

With Delhi faring poor in the air quality ranking, numerous initiatives are being taken to control the city’s air pollution levels. The only problem existing is the lack of information on air quality and precautionary measures. The process of tackling this problem is incomplete till people are aware and are ensuring precautionary measures.