Shops and eateries of Connaught Place remained closed for over four hours on Tuesday to protest the Centre’s plan to make the commercial hub a pedestrian-only zone.
Traders from around 1,200 stores in CP came together with many holding placards that read “NDMC be logical”, “Save CP, it’s a market not a tourist destination” and “No car karobar”. They threatened of a complete shut down if their voices aren’t heard.
Atul Bhargava, the president of the New Delhi Traders’ Association (NDTA), said, “The scheme was earlier introduced around 1994 but was scrapped as it failed miserably. CP is already pedestrian friendly as it has 15 feet covered corridor for walking and 20 feet additional walking space.” Shops were shut from 11am to 3pm in the area.
The proposal, which was given ‘in-principle’ approval by the ministry of urban development, when implemented, will prohibit vehicles in the inner and middle circle of CP. Also, nearly 2,000 parking spaces will be removed, which include 1,500 from the Inner Circle and 400-500 from the Middle Circle. The plan was to roll out by February 1, but is now likely to be implemented by the end of this month or early March.
Traders opposed the move as they felt the plan would choke the outer circle even more and hit business. “Instead of easing congestion, it would lead to traffic jams in the outer circle, going all the way to Mandi House, India Gate and other areas. Besides, what about the elderly who come to our shops? Many of them are regular customers and they would stop coming if they have to walk for so long,” said Rippon Nath of Nath Brothers chemist shop.
According to traders, two plans were proposed by the council.
“In the first, cars will be allowed to enter from Janpath, people will alight at Palika Bazar or Palika Parking and take an exit from Baba Khadak Singh Marg. The second plan proposes that cars will be allowed in the middle circle but only for visitors and shoppers to be dropped, making it a no-parking zone,” said another trader.