There was a time when Anil Book Store — located on the wall adjacent to PVR Plaza — saw a constant flow of book lovers. But today, hours go by without a single customer turning up at the shop.
The mess that Connaught Place (CP), a favourite shopping destination with Delhiites, has turned into is driving away customers, who avoid shops in the radial roads and middle circle areas which have been dug up as part of the market’s restoration process.
The area is in such a mess that even book lovers, who used to frequent the area often, are forced to avoid going to the store.“It is impossible to access this bookstore because it has been dug up on both sides. So people who want to come here have to walk over exposed pipes and pits to avoid losing their balance,” said Mahesh Kumar, who frequents the store.
But this isn’t an isolated case; all stores in the radial roads and in CP’s middle circle have met a similar fate with sales plunging massively. “The façade of shops in the middle circle have been blocked from the view. Sale in this part have dipped by almost 60-70%, while sales in the inner and outer circle have dipped by 10-25%. The festival season is around the corner and the area is in a total mess,” said Atul Bhargava, president, New Delhi Traders’ Association.
Shop owners were also opposed to the laying down of three-metre wide walkways in front of shops in the middle circle since they said it will eat into parking space.
“The area in front of shops located along the middle circle and radial roads of the blocks will be taken up by a three-metre footpath along with a patch of green and a seating plaza. This is absolutely unnecessary because it is eating into parking space in the market,” Bhargava added.
Traders said they have made several recommendations to the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) as well as Engineers India Limited to complete the restoration block-wise but their pleas have fallen on deaf ears.
Commuters who use the Metro service to get to Connaught Place have also expressed their frustration with the never-ending construction in CP.
“I get off at the Rajiv Chowk Metro station every day to walk to my office. But I am forced to take an auto-rickshaw because the Janpath radial road is inaccessible for pedestrians,” said Rita Sharma, who works in CP.