Karol Bagh market traders want pedestrian-only plan deferred
Traders of central Delhi’s Karol Bagh market, which was pedestrianised last year, have asked the North Delhi Municipal Corporation not to reintroduce the scheme till March next year, saying extremely low footfall has affected business and so the authorities should allow vehicular movement on Ajmal Khan Road for six more months.
Karol Bagh was the first shopping hub in Delhi to be pedestrianised, as part of which its main market road (Ajmal Khan Road) was restricted for vehicles in May last year. Additional arrangements were made to resolve the problem of haphazard parking in the area.
But after the Covid-19 lockdown, the stretch was opened for vehicular movement from July 8 this year on traders’ demand. Parking on the stretch is still not allowed.
Municipal officials had then said the arrangement was temporary and the pedestrianisation plan would be implemented again after the opening of public transport such as the Delhi Metro.
Murli Mani, president of the Ajmal Khan Road Traders Association, said traders do not want the stretch to be pedestrianised for a few more months as there is low footfall and business has been adversely hit due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A footfall of 7,000 to 10,000 people per day was reported at the market in normal times, which has now gone down by 90%, traders said.
“People do not want to take public transport or walk and prefer private vehicles. Our business is down by over 70% due to Covid-19. We want vehicular movement on Ajmal Khan Road to be extended further. We have written to the mayor and the commissioner of the north corporation, seeking relaxations till March next year,” Mani said.
Ajay Bajaj, advisor of the Karol Bagh Market Federation, said pedestrianisation at this juncture would further affect business in the market.
“Whatever businesses is happening is because of those who come in private vehicles. Restricting vehicular movement again will only hamper our trade and deteriorate our financial condition,” Bajaj said. He said on-street parking on the stretch should not be allowed but at the same time, vehicular movement should not be restricted .
The Karol Bagh market had emerged as a model for other areas as in May last year, the north corporation, along with the traffic police and the public works department (PWD), had restricted vehicular movement on Ajmal Khan Road and made it a completely walkable stretch.
A special parking management area plan was made for the market to regularise haphazard parking in the area. On-street parking from Ajmal Khan Road, Padam Singh Marg and Tank Toad was removed. Benches, flower pots and decorative street lights were installed to beautify the market.
A senior official of the north corporation said they were yet to get any latest communication from the traders’ body on the issue. “The pedestrianisation plan will be implemented agaun for sure but the date and timing are yet to be decided. It will be done in consultation with all stakeholders, including traders. Any decision regarding when to reintroduce the plan will be taken by higher authorities of the corporation,” the official said.