Volunteers painting a stained pillar in Connaught Place, New Delhi. Sushil Kumar/HT
The pillars of the pristine white facade of Connaught Place that have lost their sheen to visitors who treat the shopping arcade like a giant spittoon are finally being getting back their glory.
Moaning the lack of civic sense among visitors and shoppers who spit betel juice on the walls and throw garbage in the corridors, the traders with the help of an NGO have taken the matter in their own hands and started a cleaning drive on Saturday evening.
The focus is to paint the pillars and corners that were earlier revamped in 2010 and have been defaced.
On Saturday, a team of about 50 people from the NGO called 'I love my city' visited the area and painted the pillars of Block-C, opposite PVR Plaza. They also distributed pamphlets and started a signature campaign asking people to avoid defacing the place.
Apart from ruining the look of the market, the NGO members said that spitting in a public places can spread diseases such as tuberculosis.
"CP is a heritage building and visitors need to treat it with respect," said Manbir Singh, the CEO of the NGO based in Faridabad. While the NGO helped start the drive, the traders will take it forward. However, they have requested the contractor carrying out the restoration work, Engineers India Limited, to bear the costs.
From Monday onwards, the planners of the CP restoration project are also likely to start a drive to clear out the debris. It will station about a dozen housekeeping staff who will see to it that the market remains garbage-free.
Traders who participated in the drive said that public contribution was necessary to clean up the area before Diwali, a time when CP sees the maximum rush.
"We chose this time to start the drive because we wanted some of the construction to get over. We will continue these drives in the coming weeks," said Atul Bhargava, president of New Delhi Traders' Association.
Another interactive initiative which is going on in Connaught Place to provide people with the opportunity to have their say in improving urban spaces.
A team of students led by German architect Steffen Becker are doing the rounds of the market, asking people important questions to understand urban spaces better.
The respondents can mark on a wide range of topics, from traffic congestion to whether or not they want drinking water facilities.
An interactive programme has been created on five iPads which have pictures and graphics on which a user can design his/her own Connaught Place.