Car-fee Connaught Place plan runs into opposition, will take two more weeks
The three-month car-free Connaught Place trial run, which was slated to kick off on February 1, will take a couple of weeks to start as the stakeholders are yet to agree on how to proceed.
The pedestrian-only Connaught Place plan, which was given the go-ahead by the Union urban development ministry after extensive talks with New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) and traffic police officials in early January, aims to decongest the Central Delhi hotspot.
However, it can be called off earlier, and not continue for three full months, based on its response.
“We have to be pragmatic. If the situation goes haywire, then we might have to call it off earlier. Execution is definitely a challenge. However, we are hopeful it will work. We are in talks with all the stakeholders. No decision has been taken yet on when to start,” a senior NDMC official said, adding that it may take nearly a month for the modalities to be worked out.
In a meeting on Tuesday morning with all stakeholders at the NDMC office in Palika Bhawan, two plans were proposed by the council. According to the first, cars will be allowed to enter from Janpath, people will alight at Palika Bazar or Palika Parking and take an exit from Baba Khadak Singh Marg. The second plan proposes that cars will be allowed in the Middle Circle but only for visitors and shoppers to be dropped.
“Parking will be allowed only on the radial roads. This will be about 20 each on the seven radial roads,” a member of the New Delhi Traders’ Association, who was at the meeting, said.
Once the plan is implemented, nearly 2,000 parking spaces will be removed. These include 1,500 from the Inner Circle and 400-500 from the Middle Circle.
“The NDMC officials asked us to look into the plan. There will be another meeting after 2-3 days. They, however, said these are the two options, take it or leave it. We, all the stakeholders, have categorically said ‘no’,” Atul Bhargava of the New Delhi Traders’ Association said.
Traders have opposed the vehicle-free plan saying it would choke the Outer Circle even more and hit business. Instead of making things better, it would lead to traffic jams in the Outer Circle, going all the way to Mandi House, India Gate and other areas.
Pedestrian-only zone is a popular concept abroad. London, Montreal in Canada, and Copenhagen, the Danish capital, have areas where no vehicles are allowed. Many cities in Europe and Asia also have car-free zones. Back home in Puducherry, Goubert Avenue that runs along the picturesque French Quarters is closed to motorised vehicles after 5pm.