iconimg Saturday, August 29, 2015

Ritam Halder, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, July 13, 2013
Pock-marked roads in Connuaght Place turned into mini pools after brief showers on Friday.

The shopping arcade, lying almost in ruins because of the yet-to-be completed five-odd-years-long revamp, was left even more difficult to navigate for visitors and shoppers because of the puddles at several places in the inner and outer circles.

During a spot check on Friday, HT found numerous puddles causing inconvenience to the people. Construction-marred roads, deconcretised portions and dug up spots formed the backdrop to these puddles, which are also emerging as breeding grounds for mosquitoes. The joy of showers for the shoppers and visitors turned sour as soon as one tried to manoeuvre their way through the waterlogged spots.

According to Atul Bhargava, storeowner at Connaught Place and president of New Delhi Traders’ Association, the shopowners have already raised the issue of waterlogging with the New Delhi Municipal Council.

“Once the project is completed, these mini pools won’t be there as eyesores anymore. There are a few places which are waterlogged every time it rains. We had spoken to the NDMC chairperson on Wednesday. She has assured us that she will instruct officials to clean storm water drains,” said Bhargava.

Conceived in April 2004, the Connaught Place revamp bid got its final approval from Delhi Urban Art Commission in November 2008. Thereafter it has missed various deadlines, latest being June 30.

Though the NDMC claimed the project is complete, debris lies unattended at many points in middle and outer circle. The subway points - like the one in front of the fire station near Barakhamba Road - are just giant barricaded holes on one side of the road, creating traffic chaos at peak hours. Escalators at most of the subway entry points are yet to be made operational. Work on electricity, water and sewage lines is still on. CCTV cameras and public address system have also not been installed yet.

Recently declared the fifth most-expensive office destination in the world, Connaught Place revamp work had to be completed by October 2010. But the deadline was never met and pushed several times. The delay has caused massive cost escalation — from R76 crore to R671 crore. 

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit had also visited Connaught Place last week to take stock of the revamp project.

She said the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) had asked for 15 days to finish all the work. “I have asked them to take a month but I am still not sure whether all work will be completed by then,” she had said.

Despite delays, no contractor has been penalised as yet.