The three-month trial run of the project to make Connaught Place car-free has been put off for a fortnight and will take another 15-20 days to start, New Delhi Municipal Council chairman Naresh Kumar told HT. The trial, slated to kick off on February 1, has been postponed due to lack of unanimity over execution of the plan among the stakeholders, especially the traders, who have opposed the idea and even took to protest on Tuesday.
“We are still in consultation with all the stakeholders. We are also waiting for the traders’ feedback on the two proposed ways to start this project. It will tentatively take 15-20 days for this initiative to be rolled out,” Kumar said.
The traders, meanwhile, met Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal last week over the issue. After that he had convened a meeting with commissioner of police, NDMC chairperson, the joint secretary responsible for this project in the Union urban development ministry and Delhi chief secretary, New Delhi Traders Association members say.
The plan, which was given a go-ahead by the Union urban development ministry after extensive talks with NDMC and traffic police officials in early January, aims to decongest the heritage shopping arcade in central Delhi. Nearly 2,000 parking spaces will be removed, which include 1,500 from the Inner Circle and 400-500 from the Middle Circle, as this site with a daily footfall of nearly 5 lakh, will turn pedestrian friendly.
The authorities have proposed two ways to implement the project. In the first, cars will be allowed to enter from Janpath, people will alight at Palika Bazar or Palika Parking and exit through Baba Khadak Singh Marg. The second plan proposes that cars will be allowed in the middle circle but to drop visitors and shoppers, making it a no-parking zone.
However, NDMC officials have said that the plan can be called off before its full duration of three months based on the response.
Pedestrian-only zones are popular abroad. London, Montreal and Copenhagen have areas where no vehicles are allowed. Many cities in Europe and Asia also have car-free zones. In Puducherry, Goubert Avenue that runs along the French Quarters is closed to motorised vehicles after 5pm.