Restrictions around India Gate against plans to make Delhi pedestrian-friendly | Opinion
At a time when the efforts are being made to develop pedestrian-friendly areas or zones —pedestrianisation of Ajmal Khan Road in Karol Bagh by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation is a case in point—restrictions like the one imposed at India Gate only defeats the purpose.Updated: Sep 27, 2019, 22:58 IST
The iconic India Gate and the surrounding lawns in the C-Hexagon have been a popular hangout for residents of Delhi, especially during weekends, for decades.
It is one of the few ‘inclusive’ public spaces in the national capital, as it is frequented by people from all walks of life. It has also been a pedestrian-friendly space for years.
But not anymore.
Till a few years back, one could access the monument from any one of the six lawns around it. With the construction of the National War Memorial, the C-Hexagon has turned into a fortress with all the radial roads barricaded and manned by security personnel due to security reasons, and rightly so. There cannot be any compromise on security.
But Delhi Police have recently imposed restrictions on pedestrian movement inside the C-Hexagon as well. This has been done not for any security reason but to ensure the “smooth flow of traffic” at the India Gate roundabout and nearby arterial roads.
As per the new restrictions, pedestrians can enter the C-Hexagon from Rajpath, but can’t exit it despite it being closer to the parking lot and the Central Secretariat Metro station. Pedestrians can exit the C-Hexagon from radials at Kasturba Gandhi Marg, Tilak Marg and Shahjahan Road (the only radial road from where entry and exit are allowed).
This has led to massive inconvenience to visitors, as they have to walk over half-a-kilometre extra to reach the closest parking lot or Metro station.
At a time when the efforts are being made to develop pedestrian-friendly areas or zones —pedestrianisation of Ajmal Khan Road in Karol Bagh by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation is a case in point—restrictions like the one imposed at India Gate only defeats the purpose.
The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) recently approved a walkability policy, which will soon be notified by the Centre, aimed at “enhancing walkability” in the city. As per the policy, 34% of the all daily personal trips in Delhi are “walk only”. The policy proposes to develop a detailed walk plan, provide facilities to encourage pedestrian movement etc.
But measure like the one taken at India Gate raises questions about the seriousness of government agencies when it comes to implementation of policies made for pedestrians.
While Delhi Metro is expanding its footprint in the city and becoming a reliable mode of public transport, providing safe and hassle-free pedestrian access to the stations continues to be a challenge for various government agencies. The space outside most of the stations is just not pedestrian-friendly.
With lakhs of people using the Metro for their daily commute, government agencies should ensure that the space outside the stations and along Metro corridors are pedestrian-friendly.
While there is a need to develop more pedestrian-friendly and inclusive spaces, efforts should be made to protect what we already have.