Leading by example, Oil Minister M Veerappa Moily on Wednesday took the metro to office as part of his drive to promote fuel conservation and help cut India's massive oil import bill.
Moily walked from his residence at 3, Tughlak Lane, to the Race Course Metro Station, where he boarded a Yellow Line train and alighted two stops later at the Central Secretariat station, a short walk from Shastri Bhawan, the seat of the Oil Ministry.
What was supposed to be a short, 15-minute trip took three times longer because of the media frenzy generated by a Union Cabinet minister taking public transport.
Mediapersons jostled to get Moily's comments right from the moment he stepped out of his residence. The five-minute walk to Race Course Metro Station took almost 25 minutes as Moily explained why he proposed that Wednesdays, would be Bus Day or Public Transport Day for his ministry and 14 public sector oil companies.
"We spent almost USD 145 billion on importing oil last fiscal. While we are endeavouring to increase domestic production, simultaneously we should conserve fuel to reduce this import bill, which is the single-biggest reason for some of the current economic woes like current account deficit," he said.
Moily said he and all officials in his ministry and in oil PSUs nationwide will travel by public transport every Wednesday.
Joint Secretaries Neeraj Mittal and Aramane Giridhar rode bicycles for 8 km to office. His PS Sanjeev Kumar took a separate metro to office.
The rest of the 200-odd staff in his ministry too took public transport while most PSU staffers used car pools or took the metro or bus to office.
"The ministry staff alone would have saved some 600 litres of petrol or diesel on Wednesday...I have ordered my office car to be parked in the garage for the whole day. I am taking the metro to office now and will use the same to go back for lunch and return. I will take the metro again back home,"Moily said.
Once Moily was able to wade through the large number of mediapersons, he used a pre-paid metro card to enter the station and then joined other commuters on the platform to wait for the next train.
As the media frenzy continued, personnel from the Central Industrial Security Force, had to throw a cordon around the minister. The CISF provides security to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation.
When Moily entered the metro, a commuter offered