Chandni Chowk first stretch to miss deadline due to construction ban
Redevelopment work at Chandni Chowk has been stalled on account of the ongoing ban on construction mandated by the Supreme Court to deal with high pollution levels in Delhi-NCR, with the deadline for the completion of the first stretch about to be missed again.
The 300-metre stretch from Red Fort to Gurgudwara Sis Ganj was expected to be completed by November 30.
The first stretch was initially scheduled to be completed by October 31 but was delayed by a month because of the ban. A new deadline for the stretch will be decided once the court lifts the construction ban.
“All under-surface work in the first stretch has been completed. What remains to be done is work on the street, including marking out the non-motorised vehicle lane, installation of street furniture, CCTV cameras and the four toilets that are to be placed on that stretch,” said Nitin Panigrahi, nodal officer for the Chandni Chowk redevelopment project.
“However, we will put in all our efforts to complete the entire project on time. We will begin work the moment the construction ban is lifted,” Panigrahi said.
The 1.5 km stretch, scheduled to be completed by March 2020, has been divided into four stretches and is expected to be completed one after another as work progresses.
The court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EBCA), on the recommendations of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), had banned all kinds of construction between 6 pm and 6 am between October 26 and 30.
The ban was extended on CPCB’s recommendation to November 2 and then on November 4, the Supreme Court put a complete ban on construction through the day when pollution levels shot up. The court has now asked CPCB to file a report based on which it will take a call on the ban by Friday.
“Construction activities add to dust in the air, which is a major cause of pollution. This is why construction is stopped every time there is a high pollution day,” said Sunita Narain, environmentalist and director general of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
“As it is a ban from the court, it is the court that has to lift it. On Monday, the court directed CPCB to file a report so that they can consider it on Friday,” she said.
The delay in the first stretch, however, is cause of much concern to traders and public visiting the market.
“This is the peak season for this market because of all the festivals and marriages. There is a lot of crowd in the area, and since the work has been stopped, people find it difficult to walk and also unlawful activities like pick pocketing are taking place,” said Sanjay Bhargava, president of Chandni Chowk Sarv Vyapar Mandal.