Sun, Jan 22, 2017 | updated 01:12 AM IST

Coming Soon.. A Car(e)-Free Connaught Place

Updated: Jan 11, 2017 12:05 IST

New Delhi [India], Jan.11 (ANI): Come February, and Connaught Place, the heart of New Delhi, and the king of all meeting points will breathe a new life (well, at least for three months). As the spot will free itself from the shackles of fuel-run vehicular traffic; the only traffic that will now build up on the streets will be of happy travellers, sightseers and shoppers.

When a few years ago, the city of New York made a similar announcement, the initial reactions and apprehensions were the same. 'Where will all the vehicles go?', 'Will the diversions not lead to chaos?' 'How will the shops manage the expected loss in business?', and the list went on. However, when 'The Times Square' did become pedestrian friendly, all anxiety was overpowered by the convenience and comfort of the visitors, and soon everything was business as usual, and the 'business' only increased.

Though the traders in the Connaught Place of Delhi are going through a similar phase, but the public in general, along with civil society members and other environmentalists seem to be celebrating the move by the Ministry of Urban Development, already.

As Mr Sohinder Gill, Director - Corporate Affairs, Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV) says, "Pedestrianization of CP's inner circle could become the first successful model towards creation of a pollution free environment in a big city. Ministry of Urban Development's (MoUD) move of allowing only cycles and electric vehicles would not only help people in adopting usage of clean public transportation, but also help this area transform into a green zone, where people can relax and enjoy."

Explaining the current agony, Mr Gill added, "During peak hours, the area witnesses high pollution levels (around 220ppm) so this move would mean a significant reduction in pollution levels. Moreover, the absence of cars and bikes would mean an increase in safety for the pedestrians who occupy the area during peak hours. We as an EV industry body would want to ensure that this drive is successful and carried out and later can be translated to a pan India. We will put our best hand forward to support the government with all our resources and will. We are keen to seek a tie-up with MoUD as well as NDMC to turn this policy initiative into a sustainable reality."

A passionate Delhiite, documentary filmmaker and Founder, Delhipedia, Arjun Pandey was also in complete support of the move and opined that cities are for people, not cars, while commending Delhi's public transport. He added, "Pedestrianisation is a strong yet a much needed move taken up by the Government of India. I really appreciate that Connaught Place, being the commercial centre of Delhi, has been chosen for the pilot project. Devoid of noise and air pollution and with the introduction of exciting initiatives like the sound and light shows, sidewalk cafes and street festivals, the popular spot will get a positive push. We must welcome this step taken towards moulding the capital into a sustainable and smarter one. I earnestly wish the project works out well so that Delhi sets an example for all other cities to take this scheme up and contribute in building a better, smarter and above all, a healthier India."

Not just the corporate and Delhi lovers but even environment-friendly and sustainability-loving companies like Attero are endorsing the move. Mr Rohan Gupta, COO, Attero, said, "We welcome the ministry's move to pedestrianise the busy lanes of Connaught Place. Located at the heart of the city, the spot currently attracts not just a huge crowd and but traffic, too. We are certain that the results of such a positive initiative will only lead to positive results like better public safety and an increase in comfort for the shoppers and travellers alike. This will make the city, a true capital, which leads by example. Going forward, we look forward to more such initiatives for a sustainable future, including safe disposal of electronic waste with an ecologically friendly e-waste management system."

Highlighting the connectivity that CP offers, Yatish Rajawat, Chief Strategy Officer at Localcircles.com, the largest citizen engagement platform in India said, "We all tend to cross Connaught Place mostly, even if we are going towards other parts of the city. Hence, pedestrianisation is a certainly a good initiative, as it would reduce congestion in the heart of the city-Connaught Place. Also, CP, unlike other markets, is quite a walkable market. By creating a zone where cars won't ply the government of India would actually be creating a zone where people could walk easily and enjoy CP as it is."

Having said this, the implementation of this move will definitely be a challenge unless planned in the right manner. At this point, parking does not seem to be a hurdle, as the 'Circle' already offers three good options - Shivaji Stadium, Baba Kharak Singh Marg and Palika, which are currently underutilised. To add convenience, in fact, the government has also planned a free shuttle service. Besides, cycle and EV rental options are also anticipated to emerge during implementation. Let's hope the sea of head and tail lights in the area will soon be replaced by the bright smiles of the visitors, from February.

Aimed at creating a sustainable environment and ushering the metamorphosis of Delhi into a truly smart city, the move seems to be winning hearts. If successful, maybe next up should be Chandni Chowk. What Say? (ANI)