As the festive season nears, the redevelopment work of Delhi’s fashion high street, Connaught Place, has picked up pace. Over the past one month, more labour has been pumped into the project and work is on, non-stop.
However, shoppers continue to face troubles while walking around in the market. There are no cautionary boards, warnings or barricades marking the construction area.
At several spots, engineers have put up temporary iron staircases, leaving no right of way for the pedestrians. Temporary iron structures have been constructed for labourers to climb and work on the façade in some of the blocks. So sometimes, cement and plaster falls on the people walking below as the structures have not been covered by a cloth.
Pradeep Chaturvedi, an expert who has authored books on safety, said the contractor should at least demarcate the area with yellow-and-black tape if barricading is not possible. “In CP, such pedestrian safety measures are largely missing,” he added.
According to the officials of Engineers India Limited (EIL), the contractor of the CP project, all focus is on completing the over-ground work such as laying pavements and completing façade restoration, so that by November the market becomes pedestrian-friendly.
However, some of the radial roads that connect the Outer Circle to the middle and inner circles will be completed only by the end of this year. These roads have been barricaded as digging work is currently on. In the PVR Plaza block, work has begun on joining the pavements for a smooth pedestrian walk but till the time it is completed, shoppers will have to manoeuvre it through dusty roads.
In the entire Middle Circle, wires and pipes for electricity, telephone and water connections have been shoved to the sides. Engineers say, placing these utilities underground and then in the utility duct will be taken up last. Once the wires are removed, the sides of the roads will be paved for wider footpaths. But the good news is that the Middle Circle has been opened for parking. The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) had earlier decided to reduce the width of the pavements to make more space for parking.
Connaught Place is visited by thousands every day. It was taken up for renovation in 2009 to bring back its lost charm, but since then, parts of the market have remained dug up and debris lies scattered in some places even as traffic has gotten out of gear.“We have asked the engineers to remove the debris and unused items as soon as possible to lessen the shoppers’ inconvenience,” said Atul Bhargava, president of the New Delhi Traders Association.