Pedestrian-Friendly CP: Parking Woes irk Visitors, Traders Miffed as Footfall Reduces
The initial plan was to make the inner circle of Connaught Place completely car-free and giving access to all parking areas in the inner and outer circles to car owners.
Aerial view of Delhi's Connaught Place at night. (File photo/Reuters)
There was chaos in parts of Connaught Place on Sunday as the NDMC set in motion its plan to make the shopping hub pedestrian-friendly, inviting sharp criticism from traders who claimed the footfall in the inner circle has reduced massively. Visitors complained of inconvenience, saying the parking areas are far and chaotic.
"It's okay for people who take the metro to CP, they can take the required exit. But there's no auto-service for them if they want to go to another block. They will have to walk," said Shradha Gupta, who was visiting the area with her family for lunch.
Nipunika Shahid, who had to leave her car near Shivaji Stadium, said, "Since the entire inner circle parking was blocked, there was total chaos in the middle circle parking area. I had to go all the way to Shivaji Stadium metro station and walk back to CP".
Representatives at United Coffee House, a popular joint, said they usually have at least half-an-hour waiting time for visitors but on Sunday, only five tables were occupied. "In B-Block parking, the entry point is now exit point and exit is entry. And the parking machines are not supporting this change. Parking attendants are going crazy," another visitor said. Vinay Behel, the treasurer of the New Delhi Traders Association, said, "We were assured that there would be no stopping of vehicles into the inner circle for access to parking lots but it was the opposite and caused huge inconvenience to customers. And where are the pedestrians? Even the regular crowd has gone away."
"It is total chaos. The footfall has fallen by 85-90 per cent. The business is affected and customers are at an inconvenience. Who is benefiting from this plan?" said Amit Gupta, a trader.
On Saturday, the civic agency carried out a mock drill to test the new traffic and pedestrian movement plan. Miffed traders removed barricades placed by the civic body and shouted slogans. The civic body had said the vehicular movement to the shopping hub will be restricted this Sunday and Monday as the NDMC plans to execute its pedestrian-friendly plan.
However, now the plan will be tested on Sunday only. "A full-fledged plan to make Connaught Place pedestrian-friendly will be prepared based on the success of the trial run and after taking inputs from all stakeholders," said a senior NDMC official. Traders had raised an objection to the plan, following which the NDMC tweaked it.
The initial plan was to make the inner circle completely car-free and giving access to all parking areas in the inner and outer circles to car owners. Connaught Place market and Chandni Chowk were initially chosen for pedestrianisation in the national capital. In January 2017, the Union urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu had proposed the idea later taken forward by NDMC.
However, the plan never took off owing to strong opposition from traders. This month, the NDMC announced it will do a trial run of the plan for two consecutive weekends.
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