The three-month plan to make Connaught Place “pedestrian-only” zone could be cut short to a few days, NDMC chief has said of the proposal that is facing stiff resistance from traders in the city’s business district.
From February 1, the middle and inner circles of Connaught Place, which gets around 500,000 visitors a day, will be closed to all vehicles in keeping with a plan cleared by the union urban development ministry early this month.
“We have to be pragmatic. If the situation goes haywire, then we might have to call it off earlier. Execution is definitely a challenge. However, we are hopeful it will work,” New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) chairman Naresh Kumar told HT on Friday. He was responding to a question on the civic body’s preparations for the scheme.
The restrictions could be imposed in a phased manner, Kumar said, adding to the uncertainty over the project aimed at decongesting and reducing pollution in central Delhi.
The proposal was given the go-ahead by the ministry after extensive talks with NDMC and traffic police officials.
Traders have opposed the move, saying 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.
“We have been holding consultations with various stakeholders to deal with their apprehensions and come up with a foolproof plan. It has to be a win-win situation,” Kumar said.
Bang in the middle of the city, Connaught Place is a traffic nightmare on most days. The situation worsens on weekends and public holidays.
The NDMC plans to introduce battery-operated vehicles and cycles-for-hire to get to the business district, Kumar said. Parking would be allowed in the outer circle and at Palika Bazaar.
The civic body was thinking of giving incentives to encourage people to use underutilised automated parking lot at Baba Kharak Singh Marg, an official said.
Pedestrian-only zone is a popular concept abroad. London, Montreal in Canada, and Copenhagen, the Danish capital, have areas where no vehicles are allowed. Many cities in Europe and Asia also have car-free zones.
Back home in Puducherry, Goubert Avenue that runs along the picturesque French Quarters is closed to motorised vehicles after 5pm.