Experts have questioned the very need of an automatic multi-level parking lot off Kasturba Gandhi Marg in the wake of requests from New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) to the National Monument Authority (NMA) for reconsideration of the height of its commercial wing.
Situated at a vacant plot between the high rises of KG Marg and Barakhamba Road, the parking lot has been projected as “much needed” by the NDMC to ease traffic and parking problem of the business district.
As per NDMC’s original proposal, the project would be executed on a BOT basis under the public private partnership (PPP) model, allowing the private concessionaire commercial use of partial space.
The parking area would hold approximately 1,500-1,600 cars, while an area of about 6,000-odd sq metres above ground would be developed as commercial space.
In 2010, work for the project was stopped by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) as the site fell in the regulated area (100-300 metres) of the protected monument Agrasen Ki Baoli, off Hailey Road.
This came after an amendment in the Archaeology Act in 2010. It also meant that the proposal needed clearance from the NMA. After a delay of almost three years from the time work was stopped, the NMA in February this year cleared the project, putting a height restriction of 21 metres for the commercial wing and allowing the parking block building to go up to 38 metres, as applied for.
But the NDMC has requested the NMA for a rethink.
“If the number of cars (to be accommodated) is more, say about 1,800 cars, then it is feasible to be operationalised,” said OP Mishra, NDMC’s director (project department).
“We need to have a futuristic plan,” he said.
However, there was a note of caution from AK Jain, heritage expert and former Delhi Development Authority’s Commissioner (Planning).
“Learning from the experiences of NDMC’s Baba Kharak Singh Marg and Sarojini Nagar multi-level parking projects, a review is needed for both surface and multi-level parking projects, especially those in green areas and heritage zones.”
A former Delhi Urban Arts Commission official has termed this a “classic case in which to solve one problem, you are creating another one”.
He was referring to the wastage of infrastructure vis-à-vis regularly half-filled parking projects in the vicinity of Connaught Place.