It took five years or less to build Connaught Place (CP). This was in the 1930s, when construction methods and machinery were not as advanced as today’s. Fast-forward to the present. It is taking longer to renovate the colonnaded structure as hundreds of workers, engineers, mighty cranes and other modern machinery prove unequal to the task to restore the colonial structure to its former glory. From being a showpiece in the heart of Lutyens’s Delhi, as its architect had designed it, present-day CP is an eyesore. Construction machinery all over the place, the earth dug up, the air and the corridors filled with dust and underground utility cables exposed by renovation work.
The project — named ‘CP Redevelopment Plan’ — deadline has been revised several times since 2010. The renovation was to have been completed before October 2010, when the city hosted the Commonwealth Games (CWG). The makeover was part of plans to beautify the city preparing to welcome thousands of visitors from all over the world for the sporting spectacle. The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), which was supervising the renovation then and even now, missed the deadline. CP looked like a huge construction site or an open mine during the Commonwealth Games. The giant machinery too couldn’t be shifted out of the place before the event’s inauguration and had to be blocked out of the view of passing motorists with huge CWG promotion posters.
Head hung in shame, the government pushed the deadline to 2011, further pushed to March 2012 and then to December 2012. This year, NDMC’s former Chairperson Archana Arora promised the work will be over by March. Then, separate deadlines were set for various tasks after Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Chief Secretary P K Tripathi’s visit to Connaught Place on April 9 this year. These deadlines too have lapsed as work progresses at a snail’s pace. The new NDMC Chairperson, without setting an official deadline, is holding regular meetings and claims the work will be completed by September.
Outsourced to the government-owned Engineers India Ltd (EIL), execution of work has faced many difficulties. As the