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Connaught Place to go car-free on weekends from August

Traders have threatened to protest, saying Saturdays, Sundays, and even Mondays were peak days of business for them.

delhi Updated: Jul 22, 2017 16:50 IST
Ritam Halder
Ritam Halder
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Connaught Place,car-free,weekends
Officials say free “park and ride” services from major parking areas at Shivaji Stadium, Baba Kharak Singh Marg and Palika parking will be made available.(Ravi Choudhary/HT PHOTO)

Delhi’s iconic shopping arcade, Connaught Place is set to go car-free and become pedestrian-friendly from August even though traders opposed the move, fearing it would kill their business.

An official of the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) who did not wish to be named said the council plans to carry out the pedestrian-only campaign in the weekends.

“We plan to close down vehicle movement from 4pm on Friday and will continue it on Saturday and Sunday. This will be a soft launch of sorts in August, after which we can proceed towards making CP a no-vehicle zone in phases based on the response,” the official told HT.

“We will study traffic flow, parking issues and experiences of pedestrians and shop owners,” he said, adding that based on the feedback, they will decide whether to make the arrangement permanent.

The three-month trial for a car-free Connaught Place, which the NDMC had planned in February, was put off after opposition from traders at the popular shopping hub.

Traders have threatened to protest again, saying Saturdays, Sundays, and even Mondays were peak days of business for them.

“We are absolutely against it. It is not practical at all to not allow vehicles inside Connaught Place. And this soft launch is the perfect way to kill business.

“Saturday and Sunday and even Monday are the peak days for us. We will go all out to stop it. We can’t allow them to kill our livelihoods,” New Delhi Traders’ Association (NDTA) president Atul Bhargav said.

Traffic at Connaught Place is a nightmare on most days. The situation worsens on weekends and public holidays.

The car-free plan, given a go-ahead by the Union urban development ministry after extensive talks with NDMC and traffic police in early January, aims to decongest the heritage shopping arcade which gets around 5 lakh visitors a day.

Nearly 2,000 parking spaces — 1,500 in inner circle and 400-500 in middle circle — are to be removed.

Authorities had proposed two ways to implement the project. In the first, cars will be allowed to enter from Janpath, people will alight at Palika Bazar or Palika Parking and exit through Baba Kharak Singh Marg.

The second plan had proposed that cars will be allowed in the middle circle but only to drop visitors and shoppers, making it a no-parking zone.

Officials say free “park and ride” services from major parking areas at Shivaji Stadium, Baba Kharak Singh Marg and Palika parking will be made available. The council has plans to make battery-operated vehicles and cycles-for-hire available to get to and come back from Connaught Place.

Pedestrian-only zones are popular abroad. London, Montreal and Copenhagen have areas where no vehicles are allowed. Many cities in Europe and Asia also have car-free zones.

In Puducherry, Goubert Avenue that runs along the French Quarters is closed to motorised vehicles after 5pm.

First Published: Jul 22, 2017 16:42 IST