Residents of the 377-year-old Shahjahanabad, who have seen little improvement in the Walled City’s civic conditions over the years, hoped against hope that the coming dispensation would take interest in their lost city as they cast their votes in Sunday’s municipal polls.
Akram Qureshi, president of the Bazaar Matia Mahal Shopkeepers Association, said cleanliness, lack of green space and parking are three major issues plaguing the area.
“It seems our children are no longer interested in outdoor activities. But they are not at fault. The civic authority is to be blamed. Even senior citizens and women have no green space or park to go for a walk,” he said.
Qureshi said the municipal corporations are installing garbage bins in areas other than the old city. “Over the years, problems in old Delhi have multiplied manifold but the administration can’t find a solution,” he added.
VK Jain, a retired government official living in Dharampura, expressed a similar opinion. “The civic body lets an issue go a level. When it becomes a ‘do and die’ situation, it acts,” he said.
However, Renu, a housewife from Delhi Gate, said she had no complaints as she managed to build her house without paying any bribe to the corporation. “The structure was on the verge of collapse but I got approval well in time,” she said.
The Walled City area is divided into seven wards—Daryaganj, Delhi Gate, Ajmeri Gate, Bazaar Sita Ram, Balliamaran, Jama Masjid, and Chandni Chowk. Daryaganj is part of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation but the remaining five wards come under the North Delhi Municipal Corporation’s jurisdiction.
Rafia Siddique, a resident of Bazaar Sita Ram ward, cast her vote with a different concern in her mind. As she is unable to pay up the exorbitant fees, the mother of two children wants quality education in municipal schools. “So, I am hopeful the candidate, whom I am voting today, will work to upgrade quality of education in municipal schools,” she said.
Polling was off toa slow start on Sunday morning in the area. At a polling station in Delhi Gate area, only 25 votes were polled in first two hours. But voting started picking up pace later.
Mahesh Mathur, a polling agent in Dariba locality near Kinari Bazaar, said voters generally come out after lunch. By evening, the percentage had crossed 50% in all seven wards except Chandni Chowk, where it was only 49.7 %.
The highest voting was in Ballimaran ward (60.84 %) and 58.08 % in Ajmeri Gate. The voting percentage was above 50% in other wards -- Delhi Gate (56.49 %), Bazaar Sita Ram (55.37 %), and Jama Masjid (52.05 %).