UT admn, traders must join hands to rejuvenate Plaza
Advertisement boards are not encroachments but part of the City Beautiful, for which bylaws may be redrawn by a committee comprising the administrator, mayor, MP and traders’ representatives. Unauthorised kiosks should be removed and traders must put up advertisements in an orderly manner, with a ban on banners and placards. Loose hanging electrical wires that give the Plaza an ugly look should be taken care of. Facade of buildings housing government offices should look alike and underground parking must be constructed. An eco-friendly park for residents to come and relax should de developed in the heart of the Plaza. Traders must make constructive contribution towards all these changes as well.
Colonel SK Aggarwal (retd), Panchkula
Allow display boards to facilitate customers
Display boards are put up to facilitate customers. Shopkeepers cannot be accused of defacement. What Le Corbusier had planned for the city more than half a century ago is not relevant anymore. The Sector 17 Plaza is not just a shopping centre but a cultural hub of the city; it has grown and modified from time to time as per the circumstances and the change in society. Malls and multiplexes have failed in Chandigarh; people still prefer to go to Sectors 17 and 22 markets, despite the lack of comfort. Why are they doing so? It is because people go to shopping centres for not just buying goods but to have a special experience. The UT administration must not apply unwarranted yardsticks to make Sector 17 a jungle of concrete. Let the market have boards and banners. Make better provisions for parking and remove unauthorised vendors.
Capt Amar Jeet Kumar, SAS Nagar
Organise cultural events
Sector 17 is losing its glory with time due to the emergence of malls and online shopping. This is a big setback to the traders. Only carrying out demolition drives cannot do the needful. The sector’s bruising soul needs a healing touch. The government can provide this by organising musical nights, folk dance fairs and fun games to attract crowds to the Plaza. Such activities will also provide residents some relief from their daily routine.
Suman Kansal, Panchkula
Provide entertainment avenues to entire family
A marketplace must provide the whole family avenues for leisure and entertainment besides shopping for goods. The Sector 17 Plaza, today, has a tough competition from online shopping portals and malls. It needs a lot more to attract crowds. More eateries, serving different varieties of food, must be opened in the area. Shaded corridors and cooler environment is needed to make window shopping a pleasurable experience. A gaming zone for children can boost the footfall.
Ranjit Singh Dhillon, Chandigarh
LED display screens attractive option
The anti-encroachment drive at Sector 17 was undertaken to restore French architect Le Corbusier’s design at the market area, without going into the actual needs of residents. It’s a sorry state of affairs that we feel proud to have a foreign design, forgetting unavoidable local conditions. In their race to get a heritage tag from Unesco for various buildings, the town planner and engineering department failed to adopt latest technologies that can help in adapting to different weathers and meeting lighting requirements without affecting the original design. The bylaws prepared in 1950 need to be updated and subsequently reviewed every 10 years. Around the world, commercial display is done through LED screens. How can the Sector-17 traders be deprived of this technology, which is much cleaner and attractive? The bylaws must focus on these issues: size of LED display screen, efficient cooling and heating of shops, type of flooring in corridors, laying of electrical, telephone and cable wirings and colour of facade and pillars. To achieve this, all technocrats — town planner, architect and engineers — must provide guidance and not resort to demolition drives.
Manjinder Pal Singh, SAS Nagar
Better parking space needed
The golden heart of the City Beautiful — Sector 17 Plaza — does not glitter any more. A decade back, this marketplace was famous for its splendour, inviting both residents and tourists in hordes. Malls mushrooming in and around the city cannot be blamed for its diminishing importance. Its fall in status, however, is a matter of concern for not only the traders and administration, but residents as well. The drive carried out by the administration cannot be questioned, as cleanliness and discipline must always take precedence over other concerns. A little effort can bring back its glory. Better parking space, gaming zones to keep children busy while parents shop, fun and cultural activities like concerts for youngsters and of course discount offers can increase the footfall.
Kamaljit Kaur, SAS Nagar
Tap sector’s business potential
Le Corbusier gave the city an aesthetic and cosmetic panorama. But for sustaining life, some more things are required, like a source of income for residents. Sector 17 is the heart of Chandigarh, where both tourists and locals flock in maximum numbers. It houses a number of big and small showrooms along with important government offices. In short, this sector has the maximum business potential. The basic features of the City Beautiful are its cleanliness and uniformity. While maintaining these features, we should not forget that we are dealing with socio-economic issues and not concrete and brick structures. The traders and administration should reach a consensus for implementing the pilot project. The project, in fact, should have been initiated from buildings occupying government offices, instead of 51 showrooms in Sector 17E, to put up an example for the traders. Since its inception, the city has witnessed various developments — social, economical, political and technological. In view of the changing times, both sides should not hesitate to adopt new measures. We should go for such features for Sector 17 that show that the City Beautiful is an abode of educated, disciplined, law-abiding, truthful and honest people of virtue with a scientific outlook.
Paras R Kalotra, SAS Nagar
Allow traders to set up food courts outside shops
Rejuvenation of Sector 17 and making it into something like Times Square at New York is not that difficult; it only calls for openness of mind of the bureaucrats, who have used the term “heritage” without understanding either its meaning or spirit. No wonder Sector 17 presents a dull picture and is in such dire straits today. I am sure that even Le Corbusier would have liked a “living city”, not one that is stuck in outdated rules. Permission should be given to traders to make sitting areas outside their shops, provide chairs and tables to visitors and serve coffee and snacks in evenings. Local artistes, too, should be allowed to perform, at least at weekends, without going through the red tape. People want experiences when they go out and connect with friends, not just walk around in corridors. Let the traders provide this unique experience by making their shops colourful and inviting.
Dr Dinesh Kumar, Chandigarh
Remove encroachments from corridors
Change is the law of nature; then how can rules authored in 1952 put a permanent stamp on the kind of decor and exteriors of buildings? Colourful display boards and facade generate life, giving a break from a monotonous outlook. If this school of thought goes against the existing rules, then they must be amended. However, safety of the structure and convenience of shoppers ought to be paramount. As far as encroachment is concerned, the administration must look at its own offices and buildings first. When the media raised this anomaly, the administration decided to call tenders to remove such encroachments and violations to the facade. Why didn’t they put the same machinery used for the demolition drive in use for setting own house in order? The government must be people-friendly while implementing its decisions, laws and policies. In the amended bylaws, encroachments on corridors and ban on installation of exhausts of generators and air conditioners at low height that cause inconvenience to shoppers, and ban on alterations endangering the building structure must be dealt with strictly. However, at the same time, the amended laws should try to make the city centre more attractive and lively.
RP Malhotra, Panchkula
Allow multistorey malls in area
For rejuvenating Sector 17, a higher footfall is needed. The bureaucrats, however, are killing Sector 17 inch by inch by making useless policies in the name of heritage. If there can be multistorey buildings in other sectors, why not in Sector 17? Does heritage mean living in the past? Shifting of the bus terminus, courts and other important offices has affected the number of people coming to the market. A useless musical fountain in the name of something new is not the answer.
Vinod Virmani, via email
Traders should beautify surroundings
For maintaining the glory of Sector 17, better provisions should be made for cultural entertainment and avenues for leisure. The fountain should be decorated and made functional in evenings. Musical concerts must be organised regularly with special attractions at weekends. While curbing encroachments, traders should be encouraged to beautify the surroundings of their shops and be more courteous to customers.
MPS Chadha, SAS Nagar
Come up with events like Diwali fair
Before taking action against commercial buildings, the administration should have created a model building housing government offices, devoid of violations, to show the desired changes. Instead of dictatorial measures, a people-friendly approach is needed to rejuvenate Sector 17. People still love to visit the Plaza, though it has lost its sheen. The Diwali fair used to be a big attraction. Similar ideas are needed to breathe life into Sector 17.
Dr Devinder Garg, Chandigarh
Focus on cleanliness, traffic issues
People are putting a blot on Sector 17 for their selfish needs. They don’t give two hoots to bylaws made to ensure uniformity of design. The authorities must remove all violations and give strict directions to the traders to follow the rules. The administration should also improve the condition of roads, parks and pavements in the area. More benches should be installed besides more public toilets for visitors. Special attention should be given to cleanliness and traffic management.
Sumesh Kumar Badhwar, SAS Nagar
Save marketplace from choking
The demolition drive, part of the administration’s rejuvenation plan mooted by UT adviser Vijay Kumar Dev, was carried out despite a tough resistance by traders, who have already been fighting a losing battle for survival with malls and multiplexes mushrooming in and around the city. The authorities will do well by initiating steps to check encroachments around the shopping area, making buildings fire-safe and providing better parking space to visitors besides pushing for other entertainment avenues to save Sector 17 from choking. The crux of the problem lies beneath the painted walls, which needs to be borne in minds of those at the helm of affairs.
Ramesh K Dhiman, Chandigarh
Ban political activities at Plaza
Sector 17, at present, has become an arena for dharnas and candlelight vigils, giving the shopping centre a political hue. To revive its lost essence, it must be freed of all political activities, even if these are peaceful. Let there be another central place or an open ground demarcated for all such activities. The Sector-17 Plaza should be left free for people to come and shop, attend exhibitions and spend some leisurely time, like at Connaught Place and India Gate in Delhi. In the evenings, light music can be played in the central space where people sit and relax. There should be some games for children as well besides attractions for senior citizens. All that the authorities need is some will.
Colonel RD Singh (retd), Ambala Cantt
Removal of signboardsstep in right direction
The authorities should have in place an acceptable blueprint for rejuvenating Sector 17 by involving various stakeholders, including administrative officials, traders and eminent citizens. The drive to remove signboards of non-permissible size and shape that were marring the desired appearance of buildings housing showrooms was a step in the right direction. Now, the focus should be shifted to buildings housing various government offices as well.
Dr Vijay Kumar Soi, Chandigarh
Ban defacement of facade
People from far-off places come to Chandigarh to see the work of Le Corbusier. Traders, by putting up signboards and advertisements, have defaced the architectural heritage for which the city is famous. In this light, it was important to remove such materials to revive the lost glory of Sector 17, the heart of Chandigarh.
DP Gautam, via email