Delhi Police says no to observing 'Car-Free Day' on Oct 22

Delhi Police says no to observing 'Car-Free Day' on Oct 22
Delhi Police has denied permission to AAP dispensation's ambitious 'Car-Free Day' event planned to be held later this month, saying the government did not hold "prior consultation" with the force before taking any decision in this regard.

In his letter to Chief Secretary K K Sharma, Police Commissioner B S Bassi said that the choice of the event date -- October 22 -- when people will celebrate Dusshera - for such an event ('Car-Free Day') seems to be "hasty and quite impractical".

Having been at loggerheads in the past over several issues, the move may trigger a fresh round of confrontation between the Kejriwal-led government and the city police.

'Car-Free Day' has been planned by the city government to be held on the stretch falling between the Red Fort and the India Gate.

Transport Minister Gopal Rai said that "ego of politics" should not come in the way of 'Car-Free Day' as it aims to encourage people to use public transport and reduce pollution level to make Delhi's air clean.

Sources said that Rai may soon meet Lt Governor Najeeb Jung and take up the "unjustified" move by the police.

"Surprisingly, there was no prior consultation with Delhi Police before taking the decision for holding such an event or regarding the suitability of the date proposed.

"The choice of date i.e 22.10.2015 for such an event seems to be hasty and quite impractical. It is the day of Dussehra festival which people celebrate by going out in large numbers with their families. The proposed Car-Free sretch from Lal Qila to India Gate is home to some of Delhi's most popular and traditional Ram Lilas," Bassi said in his letter.

He also said that there will also be Durga idol immersion at Yamuna ghats in good numbers on October 22.

These occasions demand massive police arrangements including police patrolling all over the city for safety and security of citizens and maintaining law and order. Besides, there will also be VVIP movements on that day which require special requirements, the police commissioner said.

Bassi also said that Delhi Police being the primary agency responsible for regulation of traffic in the city is the first stakeholder in any such event which has a direct impact on the smooth flow of traffic and needs to be consulted before organising such event.

Government has said that it is not the only stakeholder to hold 'Car-Free Day', but MCD, DDA, city police are also part of it.

"There are several agencies like DDA, MCD and police which have the similar responsibility to make government's 'Car-Free Day' a success. Government will hold consultations with concerned agencies to observe it. Additional Commissioner (Traffic) was also present in the meeting wherein the decision to hold this event was taken," Rai said.

In view of heavy traffic on October 22, Delhi government recently took a decision to hold the event from 7 AM to 12 noon.

The police commissioner also said that roads for such an event have to be very carefully chosen, adding, the major arterial roads and important intersections have to be avoided since their closure to private cars etc, will shift the traffic load to other adjoining roads choking the rest of Delhi.

"For example, the ITO Crossing falling on the presently route (between Red Fort and India), is such an important artery for Delhi traffic that any restrictions there will throw the entire traffic out of gear in a widespread area.

"Similarly, the C-Hexagon roads around India Gate can not closed even for a minute without having a cascading affect on the incoming traffic from all directions. The route proposed by the GNCTD from Red Fort to India Gate will also affect the movement of judges of Supreme Court & High Court and other dignitaries in the area, due to proximity of important government offices, media houses etc," Bassi said in his letter.

Delhi Police has asked the AAP government to choose suitable alternative route for this event on some other non-working day on the road stretch between 'Chhatta Rail and Delhi Gate Crossing', but government sources said, it is not interested in alternative route offered by the force.

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