Old Delhi is not getting any newer. There has been no development since an underground utility duct was completed in Chandni Chowk in 2014.
Following a month-long series run by Hindustan Times on the state of the Walled city last August-September, Delhi had initiated the Shahajanabad redevelopment project. Here’s a status report:
Lack of staff
Sources said the government did not have enough workers and funding to carry out the redevelopment project.
“Construction of utility duct on southern side is yet to begin. Its drawings and designs have not been finalised, which should have ideally been prepared six months ago. There are 12 vacancies in Shahjahanabad Redevelopment Corporation (SRDC), which have not been filled. The corporation requires engineers, architects and archaeologists to move forward,” said a source.
Frequent transfer of control
Administrative shifts between departments and frequent transfer of officers were another stumbling block. “Initially, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal was the head of SRDC. Then, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia was given charge. Thereafter, administrative powers of the corporation were shifted to the Public Works Department (PWD) and minister in charge Satyendra Jain was made the chairman. This led to confusion with regard to seeking approvals. Later, PWD Secretary was appointed as its chairman a month ago,” said the source.
According to a Comptroller and Auditor General ( CAG) report, Rs 150 crore was allocated for the project till 2014-15. However, only Rs 5.93 crore was released. Rs 20 crore was to be allocated to incentivise haveli owners to keep their structures in their original form. But the money did not come. “A proposal for funding and assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for the project was prepared, but never submitted. The proposal has not been deliberated on even once,” a source said.
Departure of architect
The original architect left the project in March citing lack of clarity over decisions. “Several decisions were reversed or decisions were not taken at appropriate level. The entire project became mundane. It has turned into merely a street improvement plan,” said Abhimanyu Dalal, the former architect of the project. The government has assigned the job to a new consultant.
Delay in encroachment removal
To remove illegal occupation and encroachment, Delhi Police constituted a committee on August 29. This committee has not met. Madhur Verma, deputy commissioner of police (DCP), said: “The committee was formed 20 days ago and police have contacted all stakeholders. Meetings will be convened next week in which vendors, RWAs, market associations will be present. We will discuss encroachments and modalities for relocation of vendors”.
The official word
Nitin Panigrahi, deputy general manager, project and administration of SRDC said all proposals are lying with the government for consideration. “The work is likely to be expedited after receiving drawings from the newly appointed consultant,” said Panigrahi, who is also nodal officer of the project.