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Traders oppose move to make inner circle traffic-free


“Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris, Times Square in New York City or Orchard Road in Singapore — all are famous locations across the world where traffic is regulated, but not completely banned. Similarly, Connaught Place is an area in the city where traffic has been flowing smoothly since the colonial era, why ban traffic now?” said Atul Bhargava of the New Delhi Traders’ Association.

‘Livelihoods at stake’

He pointed out Connaught Place is not a tourist spot, but a commercial and business hub. Mr. Bhargava added that livelihoods of people will be at stake if Connaught Place becomes a no-traffic zone.

Traders estimate that their business would go down by almost 80 per cent if such a decision is implemented and that they have repeatedly expressed their opinion against such a move to the NDMC and various other forums.

Similar decision in 1994

Older traders remember that a decision to block traffic was implemented in 1994, which was a complete failure, and the inner circle became a haunt for hawkers, drug addicts and other anti-social elements.

“Whenever smooth flow of traffic at inner circle is blocked, like recently during Yoga Day, the outer circle gets choked and traffic jams stretch on for miles on Minto Road, Barakhamba Road, Kasturba Gandhi Marg and other roads leading to Connaught Place from south and west Delhi. If the ban is to de-congest Connaught Place, it will only make things worse,” Mr. Bhargava added.

Regulate traffic instead

Traders said the decision-makers should leave their offices and see for themselves the ground reality before making such proposals. They felt that moves should be made to regulate traffic and not strangulate it in a vision of developing a Smart City. “Look at Karol Bagh, Chandni Chowk and Sadar Bazaar. These are areas that need a proper plan. Connaught Place has a well-planned and thought-out system that works,” said Sanjeev Jain, a trader.

Build infrastructure

Savar Malhotra, whose family owns the iconic Embassy Restaurant, said Connaught Place is the only “high street shopping complex” left in the city and more should be done to build infrastructure instead of shutting it down and killing business.

He added that the parking complex at Palika Bazaar shuts down by 10.30-11 p.m., thus becoming inaccessible to those who want to visit a restaurant for dinner or watch a movie.

“City planners need to come up with proper logistics and alternate arrangements like parking zones, one-way streets and put thought into it by studying the ground reality,” he said.

Stating that they were among those who paid the highest property tax in the city, shop owners said their businesses will suffer if the decision is implemented.

“Where will you ask people visiting the market to park? Will customers walk for 2 km in the sweltering summer heat to shop in the market? The metro is already packed beyond capacity. We will protest this move,” said the traders.

Kapil Mishra tweets

Delhi Tourism Minister Kapil Mishra tweeted his support for the decision to make inner circle traffic-free and urged Delhiites to give it at try for three months.

Source: the hindu

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