New Delhi: In a bid to encourage physical activity, the Health Ministry wants to develop cycling tracks across the country as it embarks on a campaign to promote cycling for a healthy lifestyle.
The Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said that he will approach the Surface Transport and Urban Development Ministries for the development of cycle tracks alongside roads to make cycling a "huge movement" in the country.
"Physical activity is a must. Use of bicycle should be promoted in a big way, it has to be made a huge movement. We need to ensure that no single person should be deprived of it. If you put everybody to running, walking and cycling you can take care of 50 per cent of their health.
"I will personally write to Surface Transport and Urban Development Ministries to do whatever they can in this initiative and also ask them to develop cycle tracks," Vardhan said as he released a study report titled "Peddling towards a Greener India: A Report on Promoting Cycling in the Country", prepared by the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) here today.
Vardhan said 45 per cent of the health problems are due to lack of physical activity and diseases like diabetes and hypertension can be handled to a large extent by doing exercises.
He also said that the parents should encourage their children to go to the parks and play as they encourage them for studies as both are equally important.
Lauding the efforts taken to prepare the report, the Minister said, "Reports are always good but the research should be converted into practical use for the benefit of mankind.
"TERI's report could prove to be a blessing in disguise for the future of the health of the nation. 'Health for all' should become a reality now," he said.
The report talked about waiving taxes for low-income populations (cycles costing less than Rs 5,000) and providing microfinance to promote cycle ownership in India. It also said that government must come up with policy mechanism for the cycling industry to make it globally competitive
Speaking on the occasion, Dr R K Pachauri, Director General, TERI, said, "Cycling as a means of providing mobility has substantial benefits, such as lower levels of air pollution and affordability for the poorest sections of society.
Additionally, for urban dwellers leading sedentary lives, the use of bicycles provide physical exercise which is good for physical and mental health."