Call to revamp Chandni Chowk’s arteries
Residents and traders of the heritage market now want a similar makeover for 11 internal roads leading to the 1.5-km stretch between Red Fort and Fatehpuri Mosque being redeveloped by the Delhi government, in sync with the main project.Updated: Aug 03, 2020 04:24 IST
Chandni Chowk’s urban eyesores — uneven pavements, hanging electric and telephone wires, pavements encroached by hawkers and traffic chaos — may be a thing of the past once redevelopment of the main market road is complete.
Residents and traders of the heritage market now want a similar makeover for 11 internal roads leading to the 1.5-km stretch between Red Fort and Fatehpuri Mosque being redeveloped by the Delhi government, in sync with the main project.
The Red Fort-Fatehpuri stretch is likely to be thrown open to the public by November this year, officials said. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had recently inspected the project.
According to residents and traders, traffic on internal roads increased manifold due to closure of vehicular movement on the Chandni Chowk road after the project started in 2018,.
They say the internal roads leading to residential areas, katras and other markets, are not in a good condition, missing basic infrastructure and urgently need upgrade.
Katras are defined as residential-cum-market complexes with small rooms around a courtyard with a single narrow entrance, which was inhabited usually by people from the same trade. They have existed ever since Shahjahanabad came into existence during the Mughal era.
The traders’ association said the government should integrate the revamp of 11 stretches leading to Chandni Chowk, in the main redevelopment plan, saying upgrade of infrastructure along with a proper traffic circulation plan will be crucial for decongesting the area.
This list of roads includes Nai Sarak, Esplanade Road (which connects Chandni Chowk with Jama Masjid), Dariba Kalan, Shanti Desai Marg (near Town Hall), Ballimaran, Katra Neel and Paranthe Wali Gali,.
The market’s trader body association has written to Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.
“The infrastructure of these 11 roads needs to be improved. It is important that the entries to these roads and lanes from Chandni Chowk market are in sync with the redevelopment work. We have requested the CM to integrate these roads in the project as these have historic, cultural and religious significance,” said Sanjay Bhargava, president of Chandni Chowk Sarv Vyapar Mandal.
A Delhi government spokesperson did not respond to HT’s request for a comment.
A senior traffic official privy to the developments of the pedestrianisation project, however, said they are working on an overall traffic management plan for Chandni Chowk, which will also ease the jams on the internal roads.
The pedestrianisation of the main road, residents say, has led to massive congestion in the lanes and bylanes as these have now become the main routes. “The internal roads are in a pathetic condition and the increase in vehicular movement made the situation worse. It is impossible to even walk on the choked internal roads,” said Ashok Mathur, a resident of Nai Sarak.
Sanitation work, broken roads, waterlogging, dangling wires are also on the long list of problems faced by people.
Abu Sufiyan, who heads Purani Dilli Walon Ki Baatein, an organisation conducting heritage walks and cultural events in the Walled City, said roads, lanes and bylanes of historical importance should be maintained well. “Most tourist spots are located in the lanes and bylanes. Sanitation and road infrastructure are major concerns. These should be fixed on a priority basis,” Sufiyan said.
Urban designer AGK Menon agrees.
“This is a work in progress and redevelopment of important internal roads should be the next step. The roads can be selected based on popular tourist destinations located on them. A decade back, INTACH’s Delhi chapter prepared detailed plans for some roads,” Menon said.
“The ongoing project has changed the perception of people and has shown it is possible to carry out redevelopment of this area. But the focus has to be on holistic development for which internal roads should be revamped,” Menon said.
The façade of the market and some buildings located on roads leading to the main market need to be restored, experts say.
Swapna Liddle, historian and convener of INTACH-Delhi chapter, said that façade restoration should be done based on each building’s heritage aspect.
“It can’t be done uniformly. It should be done individually depending on its heritage aspect. Historians can provide better inputs for the restoration of the façade and upgrade of old areas. They should be involved in the process right from the beginning,” Liddle said.
As for internal lanes, Liddle said, “We have to look beyond cosmetic change and address real problems related to sanitation, roads and other infrastructure along with disaster preparedness. These aspects are critical for the holistic development of the area before any traffic or development plan is prepared.”
Manish Verma, general secretary of Dariba Kalan market, says the government should prepare a plan to address the traffic situation in internal roads. “Pedestrianisation of the main road will be of no use if internal roads get choked. There should be a detailed plan for traffic movement,” Verma said.
The redevelopment project is being executed by the Shahjahanbad Redevelopment Corporation (SRDC). A senior SRDC official, requesting anonymity, said important internal roads such as Esplanade Road and katras will be taken up for redevelopment in subsequent phases.
“The initial plan was to redevelop the entire Chandni Chowk, but it couldn’t be done due to paucity of funds. Currently, we are focusing on the main Chandni Chowk stretch. Internal roads and katras will be redeveloped in subsequent phases. For instance, Esplanade Road, which connects Jama Masjid and Chandni Chowk, will be redeveloped along with the Jama Masjid Precinct redevelopment project,” the official said.
The façade of buildings on the Chandni Chowk road will also be redeveloped in the next phase . “We have prepared the request for proposal for it. It will be done in the next phase,” the official said.