Khan Market – one of the world’s costliest markets – is set to undergo a major facelift but traders are hopeful that the posh retail spot will avoid the nightmare of the Connaught Place (CP) redevelopment project.
Home to top boutiques and designer cafes, the 63-year-old market is set to get a centralised AC plant and a common effluent treatment plant. To solve the perennial parking problem, an extensive underground parking with tunnel links to the nearest metro station has been planned. Other additions include an emergency ramp, a multi-storied mall, a multiplex and an al fresco walking space.
But despite the large-scale makeover planned, retailers say the Connaught Place experience won’t be repeated this time around.
“The architect-cum-consultant appointed by the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) will make sure that things are done methodically and sequentially and see it through to the end. We have campaigned with various council chairpersons, who have assured us that the project will be completed in an orderly manner,” Arjun Kapoor, president of Khan Market Welfare Association, told HT.
The CP makeover bid was first conceived in 2004 and set in motion finally in 2008. What began as a two-year project missed the completion deadline five times and finally ended three years behind schedule and almost nine times over budget.
NDMC officials, however, are confident of avoiding the fiasco. “The CP project was done in piecemeal. The whole project was designed and the work was given out in pieces. The result was total confusion. In Khan Market, the consultant architect will oversee the entire venture till its completion,” a senior NDMC official said.
The idea for the Khan Market redevelopment project was conceived in March 2011 by the Union urban development ministry. “From then, we have been putting it in writing to the municipal council. We don’t need another CP here,” Kapoor said.
However, not everyone is as optimistic of avoiding a disaster. New Delhi Traders Association president Atul Bhargava, who is also a member of the Khan Market body and a shop owner in CP, said when work starts, business will be affected.
“Once lanes are dug up, it will be pandemonium. If they can do it faster and without hurting the business volume, it will be amazing. However, I have my doubts,” Bhargava said.
Khan Market, named in honour of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (Frontier Gandhi), started off as a grocery market in 1951. It is India’s most-expensive retail market with a worldwide ranking of 28.