Traders claim that business could come down to 50 per cent from what it is now.
New Delhi: The Delhi government’s decision to make Connaught Place (CP) a vehicle-free zone is facing flak from the traders and shopkeepers in the area. The New Delhi Traders’ Association (NDTA) is using all its power and muscle to garner attention towards the problems they are anticipating once the plan is kicked in.
The traders claim that business could come down to 50 per cent from what it is now. The association has written to the Prime Minister and the L-G. The L-G has asked for a high-level meeting on the issue in the coming week to understand the problems of the shopkeepers in the area. The meeting would be chaired by the L-G. The NDMC chairperson, Delhi secretary, Delhi police official, Union ministry officials, and the head of traders’ union are expected to be called.
The association is contemplating a legal remedy against the pedestrianisation of the heritage area. On an average, more than 1,500 cars can be spotted in the inner circle. The iconic market hub, which has tourists and office-goers as well, has been ranked as the 7th most expensive office space in the world. While one argument against the move is loss of business, the shopkeepers also feel that the decision is not through and that it doesn’t benefit anyone in the long run. If we were to go by numbers, CP bore a loss of 80 per cent of its business when Yoga Day was conducted in the area. The traders’ association has used all its power and muscle to seek help from the political cadres.
“I think it is a half-baked decision because CP is a ‘living heritage’ area. This move would only slow down business because people would prefer going to a mall rather than facing parking hazards in the area,” said Atul Bhargava, the president of NDTA.
According to him, the luxury brands in the area could take a serious hit, “We have iconic Indian and other luxury brands. I don’t think anyone would want to buy gold and travel back walking, looking for their vehicles,” he added. Apart from business, the office-goers and others feel that this will add to more problems in the area. Notably, CP has been facing a congestion crisis after the boom in radio taxis and e-rickshaws plying in the area.
“There aren’t sufficient parking spaces available near the inner circle. If you seek the opinion of a tourist or a commuter, he would be very happy because it would be less crowded. But we have to understand that this is a half-baked idea,” he said.
The office goers and restaurant owners say that the government should make a holistic plan and specially focus on other markets that are in dire need of decongestion. They are of the opinion that Chandni Chowk and Sadar Bazaar pose a bigger threat to traffic.
The online petition aimed at seeking attention of the netizens, claims: “If pedestrianisation is implemented, it will result in closure of business houses operating for the past five decades and more. Please sign this petition... Help us save Connaught Place, else the consequences will be dire!”