Come February, the commercial hub of New Delhi, Connaught Place, has just been turned into a more pedestrian friendly place – cars and buses have banned from entering the area for as long as three months as authorities look to battle pollution as well as congestion in this area which is considered one of the priciest pieces of land in the country.
According to reports this step has been taken as a pilot project as a preparation for the launch of the smart city plan. The ban on movement of vehicles has been imposed in middle and inner circles of Connaught Place.
To ensure that the public is not put to too much inconvenience, arrangements have been made for ‘park and ride’ services. The central location for parking will be Shivaji Stadium, Baba Kharag Singh Marg and Palika parking. Over 4,000 parking spaces are available in these locations cumulatively.
A decision in this regard was taken at a meeting attended by officials from the Urban Development Ministry, NDMC and Delhi Police. The meeting was chaired by Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu.
“It was decided that pedestrianisation of Connaught Place on a pilot basis would be implemented for three months from February this year for ground level testing of issues related to changes in traffic circulation, experience of pedestrians and shop owners, management of reclaimed parking lots, traffic load on outer circle etc,” an official release said.
The decision has invited a sharp reaction from traders of the area. “This is a very absurd idea. CP is a commenrcial centre, not a tourist destination. The moment inner circle will be made vehicle-free, the outer circle will be choked. We have already seen a demo on the Yoga day,” said Atul Bhargava, president, New Delhi Traders Association (NDTA).
“There is already 20-ft walking space in all the blocks for pedestrians and there is already shortage of parking space. How many visitors will prefer parking their vehicles at Shivaji stadium or Shankar market and take a shared ride to CP to shop or eat? The business will obviously suffer,” he added.
Connaught Place is packed with tall buildings, offices, showrooms, markets and hangout points. It is amongst the most visited places in the city. CP is also the world’s seventh most costliest office destination, according to a rating agency.