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HT Image

Whitewash or eyewash?

The new-look Connaught Place evokes a mixed bag of emotions.
By Debjeet Kundu | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON SEP 25, 2010 12:31 AM IST

Oh, this shop was here?” — is the kind of reaction many corners of the Connaught Place is garnering now. Courtesy preparations for the Commonwealth Games, nearly eight months of dug-up roads, construction blockades and water-logged filth had given the heart of Delhi a war-ravaged look and made many of its fine features disappear from public memory. But finally, things are looking up. New look

“These red ones look great,” says shopper Shalini Nair, 36, pointing at the newly laid tiles. Apart from red and white marble walkways, CP now has rows of freshly planted saplings, seating areas at the corner of every block, and well laid-out parking slots. And all this looks pretty neat, with freshly painted white walls and pillars providing the backdrop. “We come here last year… road broken, people work all over,” says Oscar, a Spanish tourist, in his broken English. “Now, nice. Look good,” adds his partner Coral, picking up calendars from Nath Stationery.

Dwindling sales, too, seem to have picked up. “Business was really hampered due to the mess,” says Arjun Singh, assistant manager at the Puma store. “But the footfall is increasing after the makeover… CP rocks now.” All is well… really?

“Our phone lines are dead for the past six months, and we are expected to be happy with the whitewash,” says Vaishalik Jain, owner of the Jain Book Agency. The marbles are yet to be laid out in at least four blocks, and the work in CP stops on September 25, that’s today! “Uske baad toh hum nahi jaante,” says Ramesh, a labourer from Noida, when asked about the fate of the unfinished business. “It took two years to recover after the Metro came up, and now we are again left in the lurch, thanks to CWG,” rues Gauravjit Kochar, owner of Giggles, a gift shop.

As we speak, a girl and a boy dressed in bright red and white CWG outfits walk by. Fresh graduates, they are volunteering as ‘Liaison Officers’ for the visiting delegates. So what’s their take on the new-look CP, we ask. “Please, no comments,” the girl pulls away the boy. Now that’s learning the ‘CWG-way’ fast!

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