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Ambitious Delhi Master Plan never executed in Walled City suburbs

Charles Trevelyan developed Sadar Bazaar, Paharganj and Karol Bagh to accommodate the increasing population of Shahjahanabad. Now, these areas face the very problems they were created to solve

delhi Updated: Feb 16, 2018 10:09 IST
Parvez Sultan
Paharganj was established as an ‘anaj mandi’ (grain market) functioning outside Ajmeri Darwaza of Shahjahanabad. Including Paharganj, there were 52 bazaars and 36 mandis in and around the city during the Mughal rule.
Paharganj was established as an ‘anaj mandi’ (grain market) functioning outside Ajmeri Darwaza of Shahjahanabad. Including Paharganj, there were 52 bazaars and 36 mandis in and around the city during the Mughal rule.(Hindustan Times)

Manish Yadav was born and brought up in Sadar Bazaar, the first suburb of Shahjahanabad developed by British officer Charles Trevelyan in 1830, and now known for its endless rows of shops and teeming crowds that make it difficult for even two people to stand side by side.

Two years ago, Yadav moved out of Sadar Bazaar to a relatively peaceful Shastri Nagar, two kilometers away, when he could not bear the ‘pressure’ of unplanned and unchecked growth that made the area almost unlivable.

“Staying here is a state of social alienation. After banks and schools, our relatives seem to have put this locality in a ‘negative’ area list,” said a grumpy Yadav, who still operates an optical shop from a narrow by-lane of Pahari Dhiraj.

“Cab drivers cancel trips. Auto drivers overcharge. Relatives are reluctant to visit our place,” he complained.

His family is one of the 100 that migrated to other localities or satellite towns because of the deteriorating infrastructure in the ‘Walled City Extension’— defined as a special area in Master Plan of Delhi (MPD) 2021.

Spread over 2,000 hectares, ‘Walled City Extension’ also comprises Paharganj in the south, Karol Bagh in the west and Roshanara Road on the northern edge. The master plan mandates in situ improvements of this part of the city to improve its architectural character — design and layout — as well as revitalizing trade and commerce in the area. The old built-up area and surrounding environment and infrastructure was to be improved with adequate parking facilities.

“Till a decade ago, there were about 150 families of Yadavs in Gali Ahiran (in Pahari Dhiraj). Two-thirds of them have moved out. Life has become difficult. People reject marriage proposals just because the place is not accessible,” Yadav said.

Creation of Sadar Bazaar, transformation

Trevelyan bought 200 bighas of a rocky patch at Pahari Dhiraj, considered a wasteland, to settle residents as the Walled City’s population was fast rising.

Ranjana Sengupta in her book ‘Delhi Metropolitan: The Making of an Unlikely City’ wrote that the ‘model’ settlement was based on the grid pattern plan. It had 90 wide streets, gardens and a colonnaded market, which was known as Trevelyanganj or Trevelyanganj.

Initially, Sadar Bazaar and its neighbourhood had 84 gardens and only 14 built-up structures. The transformation started in the late 1890s when industrial units were set up and more structures — residential, shops, and mandis — were constructed after the city got railway connectivity. Mercantile business flourished swiftly because of its proximity to the railway station.

Touted as Asia’s largest marketplace, at present Sadar Bazaar caters to thousands of bulk and retail buyers every day. The neighbourhood includes the main Sadar Bazaar market and many other small markets in the vicinity — Azad Market, Naya Bazaar, Bahadurgarh Road, Qutub Road, Pahari Dhiraj, Pul Mithai and Teliwara. The locality is completely commercial but also has a significant number of residential blocks.

After the latest delimitation of municipal wards, Sadar Bazaar had an estimated population of over 1.71 lakh.

The nicely laid suburb built during the Mughal period is now synonymous with disarray and mess, said Manohar Lal Kumar, chairman of the Sadar Bazaar Trade Association Federation (SBTAF).

Read: Multiple agencies hamper implementation of Master Plan rules

“Because of the high footfall and hectic business activities, the place is always packed. Sometimes even pedestrians get stuck. The lanes are so narrow that its difficult for two people to walk side by side. This is probably the only place in the city where even pedestrians get stranded due to overcrowding,” Kumar said.

The federation said the area should be marked as ‘commercial’ zone in the MPD so that its redevelopment can be planned accordingly. According to Kumar, Sadar Bazaar and the neighbouring markets have more than one lakh shops.

Among major issues, traders say removal of encroachment from government land, road-widening to allow the free movement of disaster rescue teams and fire tenders, more parking space, and revamp of the decades-old drainage network should be taken up on priority.

The municipal corporation was to create a commercial centre-cum-multilevel underground car parking at the Idgah slaughter house site. Another facility was planned along the railway tracks on Qutab Road according to MPD 2021.

Almost eight years after the proposals were mooted, both of them are still in concept stage.

“We have been making representations before the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), trying to convince them to treat the area as commercial and not as mixed land use for better redevelopment. But the process is very slow. It took me 30 years to get the Idgah slaughter house shifted from here,” he said.

Mohammad Nazim, general secretary of Bara Hindu Rao RWA, calls Sadar Bazaar an ‘island with no public transport to connect with the rest of the city’. “Metro stations are also located at a distance. Delhi Transport Corporation has stopped plying its buses here,” he said.

Delhi’s clipped wings
Spread over 2,000 hectares, the Walled City Extension comprises Paharganj in the south, Karol Bagh in the west and Roshanara Road on the northern edge.
HISTORY
In the first urban extension of the Walled City in 1830, Charles Trevelyan set up Trevelyanganj or Travelyanpur to accommodate the excess population of Shahjahanabad, which was planned for 60,000 people
In 1830, the Walled City’s population was about 1.20 lakh
The area set up by Trevelyan was on the northern side of Paharganj, which now encompasses Sadar Bazaar, Pahari Dhiraj, and Bara Hindu Rao
Within 100 years, the Walled City’s population touched 3.5 lakh. To handle the issue, the Delhi Improvement Trust was set up in 1937
Following a survey, it was decided that about one lakh people needed to be shifted out of the Walled City
POPULAR SPOTS
There were 52 bazaarsand 36 mandisinand aroundthe cityduringthe Mughal rule
Sadar Bazar: Wholesale marketfor toys,household products,stationery, cosmetics, imitationjewellery, Chinese goods,etc
Deputy Ganj: Steel utensils Te liwada: Timber
Azad Market: Tarpaulin, crockery, restaurant cutlery
Paharganj: Budget hotels Desh Bandhu Gupta Market: Timber
Shidipura: Novelties and gift items
Jhandewalan: Steel furniture
Karol Bagh: Auto accessories, general trade, mobile phones, clothes,etc
Bahadurgarh Road: Rawplastic
Plans and proposals which were not implemented
In 1962 MPD, timber markets on Desh Bandhu Gupta Road and Teliwada were proposed to be removed
Relocation for junk, steel, and iron dealers to industrial zones
Small industries in Ahata Kidara, Bara Hindu Rao and adjoining areas were to be shifted to a flatted complex at Azad Market (after shifting Delhi Cloth Mills)
In 2001, at least three hospitals (1,300 beds) were proposed in Karol Bagh area
A multilevel underground parking was proposed at Shastri Park
The old built-up area was to be improved with parking facilities
A commercial centre-cum-multilevel underground car parking at the Idgah slaughter house site, Qutab Road, and Karol Bagh
Different building byelaws in special areas
Road widening and no parking on roads of certain width

Roshanara Road: Lack of enforcement

The MPD 2021 says building bylaws should be different in special areas as regular norms cannot be followed here because of shortage of space and adequate road width. The property owners were to register themselves with the municipal corporation with a structural safety certificate from a qualified engineer. The MPD also underlines reduction of the height of buildings more than 15 metre within the prescribed limit.

But all these provisions were put in abeyance because of political intervention after locals made a hue and cry, said Ashok Bhasin, president of the federation of RWAs in North Delhi. Enforcement is another issue that is not addressed by the agencies while planning, Bhasin said.

“Transporters were relocated from Roshanara Road long ago but loading-unloading is still done there. There were 18 tehbazari shops at Sabzi Mandi Chowk. After a fire in 2007, they were given space at old GT Road near Ghanta Ghar. Their number increased to more than 50. If you don’t incorporate these unforeseen possibilities in a plan, agencies can’t be successful. The corporation has not made any plan for our area,” he said.

AK Jain, former commissioner (planning), Delhi Development Authority (DDA), is also of the opinion that inability of the municipal corporation to prepare timely redevelopment schemes neutralized the arrangements in the MPD.

“The corporation was to set up schemes within three years of the master plan. Local area plans are to be prepared. The agency’s town planning department has been ineffective and after trifurcation of MCD, it has almost lost its significance,” Jain said.

Karol Bagh: Second phase of city extension

Almost 100 years after the first urban expansion, the British administration planned another extension of the Walled City around 1930 when it realised the phenomenal population growth. The Delhi Improvement Trust (DIT) was set up for the task and land was identified in Andha Mughal-Roshanara Road (23.4 acres) and Western Extension Area (WEA) Karol Bagh (778 acres), where residential quarters were created to accommodate 1,400 and 55, 000 habitants, respectively. The expansion was planned after it was estimated that the Walled City had an excess population of over one lakh.

It is an irony that Karol Bagh’s present population is about 1.27 lakh and the markets in Karol Bagh-Ajmal Khan Road, Arya Samaj Road and Naiwala Market have nearly 50, 000 traders.

The urban planners and administrators also blame ‘unrealistic’ planning and lack of coordination among agencies and poor implementation of schemes envisaged in subsequent MPDs for the present state of Karol Bagh.

“The planners are unaware of the ground realities. They should plan keeping interest of stakeholders in mind. Without an understanding of the ground situation, you can’t visualize,” said
KS Mehra, former commissioner of the unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).

Delhi Urban Art Commission (DUAC) chairman Dr PSN Rao said the MPD had introduced the concept of local area planning to decentralise urban governance but no plan was ever made for this special area (Karol Bagh).

“The agencies just take up the job in one part or another. There was no proper planning to address basic issues such as encroachment and entangled overhead cables. All they have is a knee-jerk reaction. It requires comprehensive planning and coordinated efforts,” Rao said.

Sandeep Khandelwal, secretary of the Karol Bagh Traders Federation, said the civic body diverted the conversion charges collected by traders to other heads and hence the special area’s redevelopment did not become reality.

“RTI queries reveal that they used conversion charges to pay up salary dues and old-age pension. All development schemes were put on the back foot. Conversion charges are being taken for 10 years but no infrastructure was developed,” Khandelwal said.

MK Oberoi, president of 14 A block Residents Welfare Association (RWA), said irrelevant and impractical provisions are one of the major shortcomings of MPD 2021. “For instance, stilt parking was made mandatory to get a building plan approved. There are lanes where a car can’t enter but stilt parking is compulsory,” he said.

Paharganj: Grain market to budget hotel hub

Paharganj was established as an ‘anaj mandi’ (grain market) functioning outside Ajmeri Darwaza of Shahjahanabad. Including Paharganj, there were 52 bazaars and 36 mandis in and around the city during the Mughal rule.

Some schemes were planned for Paharganj, a haven for foreign tourists with shoestring budgets, in view of the CWG 2010. A budget of ₹80 crore was approved for relaying 56 roads and lanes. A car park with a capacity of 100 cars was built outside Sheila Cinema. But except for widening of Deshbandhu Gupta Road from the bridge to the Paharganj intersection, some stretches around Sheila cinema and Arakashan Road, no other project could see the light of the day.

The area has 750 hotels (18,000 rooms), including small guest houses. The estimated population of Paharganj and its neighbourhood, including Nabi Karim, Multani Dhandha, and Motia Khan, is about 1.34 lakh.

The main Paharganj Bazaar road was cleared after a bomb blast on October 29, 2005, just two days before Diwali.

Atul Gupta, chief of Delhi Hotel Mahasangh, said the MPD 2041 will not serve any purpose if the corporation and government do not carry out work as proposed in the previous plans.

“The corporation has not prepared any zonal development plan for the area. We want relief from conversion charges. The MCD planned a food plaza near the New Delhi Railway station, a heritage museum, a cultural centre at Chhey Tooti Chowk and shopping kiosks but all these remained at concept stage,” he said.

A North Delhi Municipal Corporation official said a proper zonal development plan for the Walled city extension areas had been sent to the DDA along with the objections received from the stakeholders.

“It is not correct to say that no work was undertaken. We do carry out development as and when it is required. Because of prevailing financial crunch, no major development project is being taken up,” he said.