In pilot move, CP’s inner circle to be made pedestrian-only for two weekendsUpdated: Jun 06, 2019 21:52 IST
New Delhi: In a major move, the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) is all set to make the inner circle of Connaught Place pedestrian-only. As a pilot step, the civic agency will make the inner circle out of bounds to vehicular traffic on the last weekend of June and the first weekend of July.
“We have held meetings with all stakeholders, including the traders’ association, and will first try this on two weekends. We will review the success of the move, see how people respond, and then prepare a plan to implement it in the long run,” Rashmi Singh, secretary, NDMC, said.
“For now, we are planning to restrict traffic in the evening hours — between 5pm and 11pm. But we are also exploring the possibility of keeping the inner circle free of traffic the entire day — from 9am till late night. A final decision in this regard will be taken after consulting all stakeholders, especially Delhi traffic police,” Singh said.
The pilot project will be carried out in association with the traffic police and The Raahgiri Foundation. Last month, the NDMC, along with Raahgiri Foundation, revived Raahgiri Day, which is now held on the last Sunday of every month. HT is the media partner of Raahgiri Day.
After the success of Karol Bagh pedestriansation project, which has been implemented by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, the NDMC was persuaded to revive its own project to decongest Connaught Place. “People are now realising the importance of pedestrianisation and the need to reclaim streets from vehicles. After CP, we plan to pedestrianise Khan Market,” Singh said.
During the proposed weekends, the inner circle will be closed to vehicles and parking lots will be used for sports and music activities. “We have tied up with the Raahgiri Foundation and will be roping in other civil society groups for these activities,” she said.
Parking facility will be available on the outer circle and neighbouring areas of the business district on these weekends. Sarika Panda Bhatt, co-founder of Raahgiri Day and associate director of Nagarro, said, “We will be helping the NDMC in preparing the plan for parking, conducting various activities and also in sensitising people about the need for pedestrianisation.”
Pedestrianisation of inner circle has been one of NDMC’s most debated projects. In 2017, the Union urban development ministry (now housing and urban affairs) had planned to start a three-month project making inner circle a “pedestrian-only zone” to study traffic flow, parking issues and experiences of pedestrians and shop owners. But the project never saw the light of day following opposition from traders.
Even now, traders are not in favour of complete pedestrianisation of the market, but are open to discussions, especially with regard to the pilot step, NDMC officials said.
“In principle, we are against complete pedestrianisation. But we are open to discussing the issue. The NDMC has informed us about the pilot step, but we want them to discuss the project with us, especially about the duration for which they want to do it,” Atul Bhargava, president of New Delhi Traders Association, said.
Traders say that the main problem is hawkers. “The NDMC is unable to control hawkers from encroaching on public spaces.”