Raahgiri Day at CP: Time to make way for kids to play

August 4, 2014


  NEW DELHI: Thousands of Delhiites turned up for the fourth Raahgiri Day at Connaught Place on Sunday, celebrating their newfound freedom to walk, sing, dance, and play on the streets.

People came armed with their rollerskates, footballs and cricket kits. Some participants also got bicycles to ride in the Inner Circle. The idea, they said, is to reclaim the streets and bring physical activity back in vogue. A S Bhal, economic adviser in the urban development ministry, said, “It’s an exciting initiative that has gained a lot of traction. It focuses on the fact that roads are meant for all and not just motorized traffic.”

The Raahgiri initiative has been organized by Delhi Police and New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), with Embarq India. It is supported by The Times of India.

M M Miglani, who lives in a highrise apartment at Patparganj, east Delhi, said his morning walks and exercise are usually limited to the verandah of his flat, which is on the fourth floor. “There is little space downstairs and the parks are often too crowded for old people to walk comfortably. Raahgiri has given us an avenue and the space to fulfil our desire,” said the 81-year-old management consultant, who cannot walk without support as his knees and hip are damaged.

M L Kshetrapal, another participant, said he came to show his grandchildren how refreshing a morning walk could be. “When we were young, we used to walk, wrestle, play cricket and table tennis. These days even kids are so busy with schoolwork, tuition, and the internet that they have almost given up on outdoor activities. Raahgiri has been an eye-opener,” he said.

Participants said CP, because of its central location and connectivity, is ideal for the event. “There’s an aspiration in each one of us to be up and about early in the morning. Also, there’s nothing like cycling on a breezy morning like this,” said Priya Sachdev, a software engineer, who had come all the way from Gurgaon. A morning walk is the best way to de-stress, she said.

A puppet show on road safety and cricket league between top officials of different government departments were the notable additions. The graffiti wall had glowing descriptions of the event. Those who had brought fitness equipment promised to return with more.

Organizers are anticipating a greater rush in the coming weeks. “When we started the Raahgiri Day in Delhi on July 13, the turnout was approximately 5,000. It has more than doubled since then,” said a senior NDMC official.




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