Union minister Mansukh Lal Mandaviya, who more often cycles to Parliament, says he will encourage more members to pedal to the House, a cause pushed by a little-known group of parliamentarians, Climate Club.
The club fellowship has risen to 46 and it needs to be strengthened, Mandaviya, who rode a bicycle to Rashtrapati Bhavan last month for taking oath as a minister, said.
“We have a Climate Club in Parliament …There was a time when eight to 10 MPs used to come to Parliament on a bicycle and the number of its members has reached 46 … Now I have to strengthen it and rope in new MPs to the Club,” said Mandaviya, a Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat.
Newly developed flats for MPs in the vicinity of Parliament House are ready for allotment and that would also help in promoting pedalling to the House, the shipping minister observed.
Talking about how he started cycling to Parliament, he told that when he became Rajya Sabha MP he was allotted a flat at Swarna Jayanti Sadan. He used to wait for a vehicle for carrying him to Parliament.
“I had to stand and wait for 10-15 minutes when it (vehicle) was delayed … distance was barely half-a-km so it stuck to my mind why not (use) bicycle, which is pollution free, environment-friendly and fuel efficient. I started cycling and in the Central Hall of Parliament discussed the matter with former Minister Anil Madhav Dave,” Mandaviya said.
Soon there was “Climate Club” of MPs in Parliament and Dave also started bringing his cycle, he said. Slowly others like Arjun Ram Meghwal, KT Tulsi and Dr Vikas Mahtme joined the club.
“Slowly the number of members reached eight-10 after I started it in 2012. I led a delegation to the then Speaker Meira Kumar for a parking space,” he recalled.
The minister said that soon after the parking request, a query raised that whether it was only for “show-off”. “Space was reserved for my parking and a policeman used to stand there till I went there to park my cycle.”
He said: “This time again we will sit in the Central Hall and encourage new MPs to join the club.” The request will be made to MPs who have been allotted flats nearby.
As 36 new duplex flats are ready for newly-elected MPs in North Avenue, the numbers of MPs getting flats will be high this time, he said further.
Mandaviya said cycling is his passion and the best exercise but still many people question him on why as a minister he rides a bicycle.
“My father was a farmer … Cycling has many benefits including health… so why should I hesitate in cycling. I don’t find it bad … if you go to the Netherlands the population is 48 lakh and it has 48 lakh cycles. Denmark has a population of 46 lakh and has 40 lakh cycles. We have to strengthen our club in the new Parliament session,” he asserted.
Mandaviya was Minister of State for Road Transport, Highways; Chemical and Fertilisers; and Shipping in the previous Modi government.
Mandaviya has been a member of various Parliamentary committees like the panel on Petroleum and Natural Gas, Chemicals and Fertilisers, Select Committee of Rajya Sabha on Real Estate Bill and National Welfare Board for Seafarers.