To add to the popularity of the Central Park in Connaught Place (CP), the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) is toying with the idea of banning the entry of motor vehicles to Inner Circle on public holidays and weekends.
The move is aimed at creating a pedestrian-friendly atmosphere and providing visitors with an easy access to the Central Park on days when the rush to the market is less. “When cultural activities become a common occurrence at the park and whenever the weather permits, we can stop the access of cars to the inner circle so that people are encouraged to visit the park,” said NDMC Chairman Sindhushree Khullar.
However, local shopkeepers are opposed to the idea, for they fear that such a move may adversely affect business. “If the entire inner circle is ‘pedestriansed’, who will come to shop here? We cannot close down our shops for the sake of popularising the Central Park,” said Manoj Aggarwal of the New Delhi Traders Association (NDTA).
He also complained that the NDMC did not inform the shopkeepers about their plan. The NDMC chairman, however, said that no formal decision has been taken in this regard.
The shopkeepers in CP have written a letter to the NDMC expressing their resentment on the issue. They contend that ever since the Delhi government allowed markets in the city to remain open 365 days a year, CP has become a popular shoppers’ destination even on Sundays.
“A lot of money went into popularising the fact that shops in CP are now open on Sundays. Now, even when the office complexes in and around CP are closed on weekends or public holidays, the market sees a good crowd,” said Aggarwal.
NDTA president Atul Bhargava, on the other hand, argued that making the inner circle a pedestrians-only zone would encourage hawkers and urchins. “CP is a commercial centre and free flow of traffic is a basic requirement. We will oppose the move with all our might,” said Bhargava.
A section of the NDTA is already unhappy with the new traffic circulation for CP that puts restrictions on the entry and exit to the market from different radial roads. The Delhi Urban Arts Commission has only partly approved the new traffic circulation plan.