No travel magazine or book on Delhi is complete without a reference to the streets and lanes of Shahjahanabad — the Walled City.
But the thousands of people who come to area to get a taste of Delhi’s heritage also get a taste of Old Delhi ’s infamous traffic jams.
“Every time I come here, I feel the traffic has got worse,” said Rajesh Sharma, a trader from Paharganj who comes to Chandni Chowk at least three times a week.
Traffic has also been a major concern with the authorities in the Walled City for more than a decade now but no decongestion plan has been able to tackle the problem.
Before the Commonwealth Games, traffic restrictions were put in place, banning cycle rickshaws and auto rickshaws from entering Chandni Chowk. But as soon as the Games got over chaos took over the road once again.
“Though the market cannot function without these autos and rickshaws, there is a pressing need to regulate their movement,” said Sameer Kulshreshta, a resident of Chandni Chowk. Lack of traffic personnel is also a major problem.
“Most of the times we have to start regulating traffic as the traffic police is nowhere to be seen,” said Mahinder Jain, a trader.
“The biggest challenge is the nature of traffic in Old
Delhi roads. Here everything, right from a hand cart to a SUV, use the same road
making the traffic jams nightmarish,” said Satyendra Garg, joint commissioner of Delhi traffic police.
Beggars a security threat
“Had we been living somewhere in south Delhi, no one would have tolerated that so many beggars and homeless people are camped on the streets,” said an agitated Wasim Khan (65), a resident of Matia Mahal.
Even though the residents of Jama Masjid stay in close proximity to one another, a feeling of security eludes them.
“The homeless youth in the area are a big nuisance. They are given to pick pocketing and duping tourists. Despite various night shelters around the area, they prefer living on the streets as this is where they operate easily,” Khan added.
A resident of nearby Meena Bazaar, Anjali Jain added, “My daughters are not allowed to go out of the house after sunset. I am not an orthodox mother but there are too many hoodlums on the street in the evening. The police should do something to remove them.”
Even in areas around Jama Masjid, most people have sold off their houses and have shifted to posh areas of south Delhi.
“Living there had become a big problem. There was a lot of petty crime like pick pocketing and the area had become dirty because of the people living on roads,” said Kehar Sharma, a businessman who bought a house and shifted to New Friend’s Colony.
“I miss the home of my childhood but I want my children to grow up freely.”