Coming this February, Delhities will no longer be able to drive to Connaught Place as Delhi’s Iconic Connaught Place to become a ‘Car-Free Zone’ soon. As a smart city project, the inner and middle circle roads of Delhi’s Connaught Place will be made vehicle-free for three months starting from February.
Urban planners and heritage activists have welcomed the government’s initiative to pedestrian’s middle and inner circular roads of CP, while suggesting boosting of parking infrastructure and deployment of rickshaws and e-buses for ferrying commuters. Union urban development minister Venkaiah Naidu discussed the feasibility of “developing water bodies, side walk cafes, public plazas, holding light and sound shows and street festivals recently. The minister was of the view that the ban of vehicles is meant to offer a congestion free, accident free and crime free experience to those visiting the area.
NDMC and Police officials have informed the ministry that the unutilized capacity could be fully used by promoting ‘park and ride’. There will be cycles on hire and battery operated vehicles for shoppers and visitors to move around CP. Officials said if the traffic plan becomes permanent, it would free up space for landscaping and construction of water bodies to act as humidifiers in the walking zone.
Prominent heritage activist Sohail Hashmi says, “It’s a fantastic initiative” that will help bring back the “glory of CP” and inculcate walking habit among people. People in Delhi now hardly want to walk. This move would not only bring back that habit, but also make them admire history like never before. The Inner Circle is most of the time blocked by increasing number of vehicles, either moving or parked”.
Connaught Place or ‘CP’ as it is popularly known as was built from 1920s-1930s a premier shopping and recreation destination in the heart of Delhi, and despite lot of change effected in and around it, still enjoys a dignity of place in the city. Named after the Duke of Connaught, Prince Arthur who visited India in 1921, the structure was designed by Robert Tor Russell, who also built the Parliament House.
New Delhi Traders Association president Atul Bhargawa said, “The decision has not gone down well with the traders, who say their business will take a hit. Instead of easing congestion, it would result in traffic jams in the Outer Circle all the way to Mandi House. We are completely opposed to it. We saw what happened on Yoga Day when this was implemented. We need to regulate the traffic, not strangulate the business.”
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