Connaught Place may soon be ridden of ugly air-conditioning units and diesel generator sets in its back lanes. The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) has embarked upon an ambitious project to provide a centralised air-conditioning system for the entire market complex by running chilled-water pipelines throughout Connaught Place.
The Council has appointed Engineers India Limited the project consultant. Work is expected to start by December 2006 and will be completed by March 2009 — just in time for the Commonwealth Games in the city.
A dedicated tunnel will be dug up along the entire stretch of the Middle Circle for the pipelines. "The tunnel will also carry other service lines such as electrical cables, gas lines and communication cables. This will do away with the need of digging up roads at different points in case of any repairs," said NDMC Chairperson Sindhushree Khullar.
The pipelines will draw water from two chilling pumps that would be installed at Minto Road. The supply of chilled water will be metered and the shopkeepers will have to pay for the amount of chilled water they draw.
"The system works using a coil-fan unit, which is basically a water-to-air heat exchanger combined with a fan designed to heat or cool air by using hot or chilled water as a source," said a senior NDMC official.
“The technique is being used in several malls all over the world. However, it is a first for us and hence we are considering all possible options under this model," the official added.
Will it work?
The New Delhi Traders' Association (NDTA), a major stakeholder in the project, has serious apprehensions about the efficacy of the project.
"All this sounds really nice on paper, but for the centralised air-conditioning system to function properly there should be an uninterrupted power supply to the chilling plant so that the water temperature is maintained at a constant level, else the cooling would be ineffective," said NDTA president Manoj Aggarwal.
He points out that power cuts for four-five hours are common in summers. "They are asking us to remove all the ACs and generator sets. With no backup what will we do in case of a power failure?" asks Aggarwal.
The NDTA is also worried whether the system would be effective considering the huge distance between the chiller to come up at Minto Road and the market complex.
Khullar, however, expressed faith in the project. "It is the biggest ever engineering challenge taken up by us till date and we are confident that the project will shape up well," she said.
Once the service tunnel is in place, the Council plans to declare the Inner and Middle circles pedestrians-only. This will leave only bays for loading and unloading of goods for the convenience of shops in Connaught Place.