Cops don't let car-free days succeed, city govt tells HM

 Transport Minister Gopal Rai on Thursday complained to Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh against Delhi Police officials who allegedly criticised the car-free day event in east Delhi earlier this week for traffic jams.

In identical letters to Jung, Singh and Police Commissioner B S Bassi, Rai said police and traffic wing officials’ statements had projected a “poor image” of the Delhi government.

“May, I request you to issue instructions to Delhi Police authorities to support the efforts of this Government to reduce the pollution in the city and expect that Delhi Police will extend their full support and cooperation in this endeavour in future,” wrote the Transport Minister.

Stung by the criticism of the December 22 event, government officials are planning to change their plan of holding a car-free day across the entire city on January 22.
“We may now limit the January 22 event to the Delhi University area only,” said an aide of Rai.

Rai’s letter said the third car-free day was organised on Vikas Marg on Dec 22 after detailed consultations with the stakeholders, including Delhi Police and Traffic Police.
“However, it was noticed that the police staff at site was found stopping two-wheelers, taxis and even buses causing huge traffic congestion in nearby areas,” he wrote.

“The police officials were also seen conveying that the traffic jam has happened due to the policies of the Delhi government,” wrote Rai, while enclosing a video CD containing visuals of the site scenario during the event.

Rai said representatives of Delhi Police and Traffic Police had also been part of the planning exercise and a detailed pre-event strategy was chalked out with them.
The critical letter of Rai assumes significance in light of the Delhi government’s earlier allegations of non-cooperation from police before the first car-free day on October 22.

On that occasion also, the government took the matter to Jung’s doorstep and the Lieutenant Governor – who controls Delhi Police – intervened by asking Bassi and his men to do all possible to make the car-free day campaign a success.

The Delhi government is also feeling the heat of organising a car-free day on a normal week day as the two earlier outings were held on Sundays, causing  little disruption of traffic on busy stretched.

Rai wrote the letter on a day when Chief Minister Kejriwal unveiled a detailed blueprint for the car restrictions based on odd-even number plates between January 1 and 15.

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