New Delhi: Notorious for its traffic snarls, Connaught Place is set to go vehicle-free for a three-month period starting February. The move is part of a trial run for a smart cities project to see if the area can be decongested, the Times of India reported. The decision came after a meeting attended by officials from the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), the Delhi police and the urban development ministry, which was chaired by union minister M. Venkaiah Naidu, the report said.
Connaught Place’s middle and inner circles will be closed for the ‘pedestrianisation’ of the area and ‘park and ride’ services have been planned from major parking areas like Shivaji Stadium, Baba Kharak Singh Marg and Palika Bazar. The total parking capacity at these locations is 3,172 but on a daily average only 1,088 vehicles are being parked. To aid commuters, cycle hiring services and battery operated vehicles will be introduced.
P.K. Sarkar of the School of Planning and Architecture told the Hindustan Times that this was the first step towards a sustainable transport system. “Making city centres pedestrian-only zone is a common concept abroad. It will not only help decongest the area but provide a recreational avenue for residents in a city that is so short of open space,” he said.
According to the New Indian Express, NDMC chairman Naresh Kumar said the smart city initiative is progressing as planned. He also said that a memorandum of understanding is being finalised with MTNL for providing Wi-Fi in the NDMC-regulated areas.
Vendors and traders, however, are concerned that the move will affect their business and will not solve traffic problems. Instead they suggest that the traffic issues will simply move to the outer circle and beyond, and could extend all the way to Mandi House, the Hindustan Times reports.
According to the Hindustan Times, Atul Bhargawa, president of the New Delhi Traders’ Association, said, “We are totally opposed to it. We saw what happened on Yoga Day when this was implemented. We need to regulate the traffic, not strangulate the business”.
(With PTI inputs)