Mexican ambassador to India, Melba Pria, has put aside her official gas-guzzling car in favor of a compressed natural gas (CNG) three wheeled vehicle.
VIPs are exempt from Delhi’s Odd-Even plan, but the Mexican ambassador doesn’t crave the exemption. Perhaps due to her experience of living in Mexico City as it battled its notorious pollution problem.
It is an unusual sight — a diplomatic license plate on a humble auto. The security guard at the Mexican embassy in Anand Niketan perhaps puts it best. “Our ambassador is hatke,” he said. (Hatke is Hindi for ‘different’,’offbeat’, or ‘not mainstream’).
Pollution is something Ms Pria knows about. In 1992, the United Nations described Mexico City’s air as the most polluted on the planet — a reputation Mexico has been working hard to improve.
Home to 17 million people and 3 million cars, Mexico D.F. has also experimented with keeping cars off the streets.
Solidly behind AAP’s Odd-Even plan, Ms Pria, however, warns that for the experiment to succeed, there has to be greater investment in public transportation.
In class-conscious Delhi, her ride has been stopped at many venues including Parliament. “At places where we are not allowed, I just get off and walk,” said the ambassador, who appears to enjoy the consternation her auto causes.
Her driver seems more affected. Rajendra Kumar initially protested when he was told that he would need to drive an auto. Today, Kumar claims he has been won over. “Sometimes the other drivers laugh at me. But I know she is trying to make a difference. If everyone were like her, we would not need odd-even,” he said.
In fact, on Tuesday April 5th, the Mexican Ambassador was reportedly not allowed to park her vehicle at the India Habitat Centre (IHC). Ironically, she was there as the main speaker at an event on air pollution.
“I think Delhiites have had positive reactions to this rickshaw, as it pays homage to Indian cultural tradition, and they also appreciate the fact that it may be less polluting than a four-wheeler,” Mexican ambassador Melba Pria said in a statement.
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