After a break of two years, Raahgiri Day — the open-street event held to promote sustainable mobility options and reclaim the streets from vehicles for the public — will return to Delhi this weekend.
Held for the first time in the inner circle of Connaught Place five years ago, the initiative saw people from different walks and ages of life taking the busiest place in the city and turning it into a safe, vibrant space for citizens — enjoying Sunday mornings with dance, music, cycling, games and other activities.
What started from Gurugram in 2013, later spread out to over 70 cities across India, which saw citizens taking to the streets to promote walking and cycling among other environment and health-friendly initiatives.
This time around, Raahgiri Day will be organised on the last Sunday for the next six months by The Raahgiri Foundation (TRF) in collaboration with World Resources Institute India (WRI), New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) and Delhi Police. Hindustan Times is the official media partner in the initiative.
The inner circle of Connaught Place will be closed for vehicles between 6am and 9am on those Sundays and people can participate in a variety of activities ranging from yoga, zumba, aerobics, cycling and other sports. NDMC earlier told HT that it was planning to hold the event in other areas that come under it.
“We will be creating awareness on waste segregation and plastic pollution through street plays and other activities including distribution of pamphlets. People will also be sensitised to not litter across the city and look for waste-bins instead,” said Dr Shakuntala Srivastava, chief medical officer at the NDMC.
Experts have noted that the previous instalments of the event played a role in initiating conversation around the need for pedestrian and cyclist-friendly infrastructure to push for sustainable transport. On Friday, students from various schools also held a march in Connaught Place to demand the right to walk and more cycle paths. A common demand during the walk was “Raahgiri everyday”.
Apart from focussing on the impact of air pollution in one of the most polluted cities of the world and how to alleviate it, Raahgiri Day — being organised on World Cancer Day on May 26 this time — will also see a dedicated campaign against cancer.
Sunday’s event, called the Nidar Hamesha with Raahgiri, will also focus on creating awareness on preventive measures against cancer. Doctors at the event will also be busting myths surrounding cancer patients and their quality of life after treatment. “We have also called medical professionals who will be interacting with cancer patients and their families and engage in activities with them to make them happy,” said Priyanka Sukhlan, manager, sustainable transport with WRI India.