The Centre’s proposal to make Connaught Place a “car free zone” on an experimental basis is facing more hurdles than expected. Connaught Place was scheduled to go car free from 1 February, but the plan is facing severe resentment from the New Delhi Traders Association (NDTA) which had called a half-day strike earlier this week to protest against this move of the government. Also, Delhi Police, responsible for implementing the car free zone plan, is not yet ready with a concrete plan to divert the massive amount of traffic that passes through Connaught Place daily.
Atul Bhargava, president of NDTA, told The Sunday Guardian, “Making Connaught Place a car free zone is an impractical idea. We will not give in to this. Our businesses will be affected by such a move by the government.”
“Nobody would like to walk a stretch of two km during summer. We also have banks, jewellery shops and other expensive shops in the area and people would not like to walk or take a public transport carrying such expensive items with them,” Bhargava added.
The NDTA has also raised questions about the parking space available with the NDMC (New Delhi Municipal Council) for facilitating parking for all visitors who come to Connaught Place.
NDMC officials, however, say that they are ready with the plan, but hurdles coming from two major stakeholders are holding them back from implementing the scheme. “We would like to bring all the stakeholders to a common platform and work out a feasible route, only after which this will be put into force. We would not like to force it upon anybody, but want it to be implemented peacefully,” a spokesperson of the NDMC told The Sunday Guardian.
Asked when the plan is likely to be implemented, the spokesperson said, “We are not rushing; once we have all the stakeholders on board, we will execute the plan.”
The proposal to make Connaught Place a car free zone was initiated by the Ministry of Urban Development as part of its Smart City project. According to a senior official in the NDMC, Connaught Place would be developed into a cultural hub where the NDMC, along with different states and the ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations) would be holding cultural programmes at the Central Park from time to time. According to the plan, the NDMC is also in talks with the different embassies to hold their National Days at the Central Park in CP.