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Traders shut shops, march to protest against vehicle-free CP


While the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) was busy chalking out a roadmap for a vehicle-free Connaught Place, the traders and restaurateurs there demonstrated their objection through a march in CP on Tuesday. They also shut their shops from 11am to 3pm and marched along the inner and outer circles of CP, with placards in their hands that read ‘Save CP’ and ‘NDMC be logical’, among others. It was interesting to note that although CP traders and restaurateurs have had some differences in the past (when traders raised an alarm over the increasing number of restaurants to NDMC), they stood in unison to protest against the vehicle-ban. “This is an unthoughtful move that will not only result in loss of business but many may end up losing their jobs too,” they said. As per the plan, the middle and inner circular roads of CP are to be made vehicle-free from February for three months on a pilot basis, a move which is aimed at decongesting the area, but the plan is yet to take off.

Everyone will face problems and no one will come here: Traders and restaurateurs
After the march, the protesters assembled in C block’s parking lot, where a huge white board was also placed for people to sign and support them. “We are asking the NDMC, what is the need to do all this in CP? We have enough space for both parking and walking and we are not choking the roads, then what is the need to do it? How will we sustain our businesses? If they want to decongest the traffic in the city, why just CP?” asked Paramjeet Kaur, vice president of New Delhi Traders Association, who also owns a restaurant in the outer circle.

Restaurateur Priyank Sukhija and other members of the National Restaurants Association of India (NRAI) participated in the protest and said that nightlife in CP will also suffer. “Who would want to party in CP when women will have to walk more than a kilometre or two to reach a restaurant and walk back till their cars even after drinking? Who will ensure their security? They need to answer all this before taking this step,” said Priyank. Atul Bhargava, president, NDTA, said, “We’ve already raised our concerns and objections in our meetings with NDMC, but there hasn’t been any solution. In our last meeting, they gave us two plans and said ‘take it or leave it, otherwise you have the right to go to judiciary.’ So we decided to shut shops and protest against their decision. It will kill our businesses and cause inconvenience to people. Everyone in CP is going to be affected by this. What about the safety of those who’ll have to walk late in the night to the parking lots? There are no CCTV cameras in CP despite our repeated requests. So rather than thinking about ways to improve CP, NDMC has a plan to strangulate our business. We won’t take these protests further but we’ll do anything and everything to save our business. There has never been a problem of traffic congestion because there is enough parking space and walking arcades. Do they expect the shoppers to be walking in CP when it will be 45 degrees? No one will come to CP.” When we asked if the association is planning to move to court for a stay on the decision, Bhargava replied, “We are open to the idea since they have given us the idea.”

Source: Times of India

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