City rises early to make Raahgiri a way of life

July 28, 2014


New Delhi

 A significant number of Delhiites left their bedside to plunge into Raahgiri festivities early on Sunday . The initiative, in its third week, gained further traction as the number of activities and participation went up. In addition to skating, cycling, aerobics and dancing, there were sports like hockey and football. People of all agegroups hopped from one activity to another, not wishing to miss out on anything. Ever since its launch on July 13, Raahgiri, organized by New Delhi Municipal Council and Delhi Police in partnership with Embarq India, has captured the public imagination. The event is supported by The Times of India.

The traffic cops and organizers put the turnout at 10,000-12,000, a big leap from the first two weeks. Many new faces could be seen. Having missed the first two occasions, they made it a point to come this time. “My friends who came last week were full of praise for the initiative.

This time, five of us came together from Noida. After aerobics, we cycled around Inner Circle, where we were joined by strangers. It didn’t matter because it was so much fun,” said Ankita Singh, a college student.

Organizers said Raahgiri was becoming the city’s hotspot on Sundays. “The response is phenomenal. Our endeavour is to make Raahgiri more interesting by coming up with newer activities.

Right now we have zumba, yoga, cycling and skating but we would like to have offerings for people of all ages.

Raahgiri is here to stay,” said

NDMC secretary Nikhil Kumar. Sarika Panda Bhatt, an urban planner with Embarq India, said they were working on expansion plans for the next Raahgiri Day . “This Sunday , we had anticipated a bigger crowd. We freed up the Inner Circle for cycling, skating and walking and kept the Middle Circle for cycling on ly. Zumba, yoga and other activities were moved to the radials, so we could spread the crowd evenly . Raahgiri owes its growing appeal to the idea of reclaiming the streets. The thought resonated with the participants.“New Delhi MP Meenakshi Lekhi made her third appearance to promote the spirit of the event. “Raahgiri is not about losing weight, then gaining it, only to lose weight once again. That’s a fruitless exercise. Our aim should be to stay fit. Seeing the response we may look at other centres for Raahgiri. All market areas should be converted likewise. Increase in footfall will only mean more busi ness,” she said before joining a cycling rally to India Gate and Rashtrapati Bhavan accompanied by traffic police.

Muktesh Chander, special CP (traffic), who wowed people with his flute performance, said, “Traffic police have been batting for pedestrians. Raahgiri is the best way to promote this. More

than 50% of road fatalities involve cyclists and pedestrians. We have been writing to departments for ensuring footpaths without compromising on the road width.’’ The day began with a cycle rally and a performance by 140 members of the CRPF pipe and brass band. The National Anthem followed. Across the venue, cyclists cheerfully jostled for space with dozens of skaters. Parents skated with their tiny tots to instil confidence in them.In another section, a crowd enthusiastically followed the aerobics and dance by the Delhi Academy. Comedian Papa CJ and Malaysian comedian Harith Iskander had their own fan base. Their jokes comparing Delhi to Mumbai left the audience visibly tickled. Hockey players and footballers pulled in the sports enthusiasts. NDMC officials said they were planning to bring in bodybuilders to multiply the fun next time.

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