New Delhi: Population and congestion bother this aristocrat constituency | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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New Delhi: Population and congestion bother this aristocrat constituency

May 22, 2024 08:41 AM IST

A high-profile constituency, New Delhi has sent stalwarts like Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Lal Krishna Advani, Sucheta Kriplani and Rajesh Khanna to Lok Sabha

The smallest parliamentary constituency in the Capital by population, New Delhi comprises Lutyens Delhi — the seat of the Union government — and is flanked by various central Delhi neighbourhoods, including planned settlements under the Greater Kailash, RK Puram and Malviya Nagar assembly seats on one end, and Punjabi-dominated assembly seats such as Rajinder Nagar, Moti Nagar, and Patel Nagar on the other end.

The Lutyens Bungalow in the heart of New Delhi. (HT File Photo)
The Lutyens Bungalow in the heart of New Delhi. (HT File Photo)

A high-profile constituency, New Delhi has sent stalwarts like Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Lal Krishna Advani, Sucheta Kriplani and Rajesh Khanna to Lok Sabha. Relatively better planned when compared to other Lok Sabha seats, the New Delhi constituency is nevertheless struggling to overcome issues related to the growing load on its limited infrastructure due to rampant urban growth, and 1,525,071 registered voters.

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In these elections, there are 17 candidates in the fray for the New Delhi seat, with the main contestants two advocates — the Aam Aadmi Party has fielded three-time Malviya Nagar MLA Somnath Bharti, while the Bharatiya Janata Party’s pick is Bansuri Swaraj, the daughter of former Union minister Sushma Swaraj, who is making her debut in electoral politics.

The problems New Delhi faces

Gopal Krishan, who heads the federation of New Delhi Resident Welfare Associations, said an unchecked increase in population has led to massive congestion and parking problems.

“As families grew, single-storey houses have grown into to multistorey buildings, but the underlying infrastructure remains the same. In many parts, roads are in a poor state. The authorities speak of turning New Delhi into a smart city, but the area needs an infrastructure overhaul,” Krishna said.

Ashok Randhawa, who heads the Sarojini Nagar mini market association, said he lives in Laxmibai Nagar, which faces problems of parking and water supply. “Under NDMC (New Delhi Municipal Council) areas, the level of basic services such as sanitation and electricity supply is much better, but due to redevelopment projects, dust levels in the entire region have gone up. These projects need to be wrapped up soon,” he said.

Pillanji, an urban village in the heart of New Delhi, has problems of a different kind — it has narrow lanes, stray cattle, and is struggling with issues related to encroachment.

At the southern end of the constituency is Greater Kailash. Chetan Sharma, a resident of GK-2 and the head of Confederation of NCR RWAs, said when he moved to the locality in 1994, the colony was much more open and accessible. “There were single-storey bungalows, which over the last three decades have turned into four-storey buildings, with each floor a separate flat. These houses have two expensive SUVs each but no space to park them. As a result, roads are choked and the quality of life has gone down,” he said.

Sharma said the vehicular load is at a tipping point, pointing to the fact that if even a section of a flyover undergoes repairs, traffic in the whole region goes to a tailspin.

“These localities were planned in the 1960s and 1970s, and today, the population has far outgrown the underlying infrastructure. We need a holistic upgrade of the infrastructure, better connectivity with metro and last mile connectivity with improved walkability,” he added.

At the western end of the constituency, areas like Moti Nagar, Patel Nagar, Rajinder Nagar, and Karol Bagh have a very high concentration of commercial activities. Harish Chitkara, who heads the Ghaffar Market Association in Karol Bagh, said his area is one of the city’s biggest commercial hubs, but has been reduced to a mess due to rampant encroachment and corruption.

“Our public representatives are not accessible. Traffic here continues to crawl at a snail’s pace, and loss in time translates to a logistic nightmare and monetary loss,” he said, demanding a more transparent and accessible system.

The Rajinder Nagar-Baljeet Nagar belt were developed over the remnants of the Aravalli and thus are at a higher elevation than surrounding areas, and water availability remains a key problem here. Urmila Devi, 40, a resident of Gayatri Colony, said her locality does not have water pipelines, and a tanker comes every 12-15 days.

“Tanker operators are reluctant to come to our areas… After filling jerry cans at the designated spot, we have to carry these home... It takes 5-6 rounds and several family members to ensure that we have water for two weeks,” she said, adding that the new representative should work towards resolving their water problem.

What the candidates say

Swaraj said national issues will take precedence in these elections, and she plans to implement several central government welfare schemes which have been implemented in the city. “Delhi has no space, there is congestion, we can’t broaden, we can only go up. We plan a large number of open stack parking lots, remove traffic bottlenecks. Infra overhaul is also on cards,” she said.

Bharti on the other hand said that the restoration of roads and basic infrastructure is his priority. “Pedestrian pathways need to be freed and the original width of the roads be restored. Similarly, the policing system needs a major overhaul and we need bring more trust in the system. The police stations should be people friendly and accessible. The ground water levels in our areas have gone down to as low as 400ft,” he said.

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