IN AN attempt to ease traffic congestion at Connaught Place, the Ministry of Urban Development has decided to make the Inner Circle and the Middle Circle of the colonial-era shopping arcade a no-go zone for cars, buses and two wheelers starting February for three months.
Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu Thursday held a meeting to discuss how the plan will be implemented. “We will implement the pedestrianisation plan for Connaught Place on a pilot basis to see how this works on the ground.”
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Naidu also stressed that a congestion free area will offer an accident free and crime free experience of to visitors.
The ministry said this was being done to test the modalities because surveys conducted at Times Square in New York have showed shopping experiences becoming rewarding ones in vehicle-free zones. According to the surveys, no traffic led to improvement in businesses as well.
“Everything depends on the implementation, availability of alternative means of mobility and customer and trader response. If this is a success, it will be included in future master plans for cities across the country,” said a senior government official.
Once the plan is implemented, the government will survey and study the response of people, the circulation of traffic, especially on nearby roads connected to the Outer Circle, and how reclaimed parking lots are used for setting up smaller shops or sale kiosks, sources said.
The Centre, however, said that Thursday’s meeting was only a preliminary discussion. “The Delhi traffic police and the NDMC have been asked to prepare detailed reports on the preparations to be made as part of the action plan which we will peruse later this month,” a government official said.
The Centre said the New Delhi Municipal Council and Delhi Police officials have suggested an efficient ‘park-and-ride’ service at major parking complexes nearby.”There are parking complexes at Shivaji Stadium, Baba Kharak Singh Marg and Palika parking lot all three of which have a combined capacity of 3,172 vehicles, though ordinarily an average of 1,088 are parked in these complexes every day,” the official said.
“Those who want a ride to go from the parking complexes to Connaught Place will be able to hire cycles. Battery-operated vehicles will also be made available. The NDMC is going to provide this and the cost will be borne by them. Traffic police will deploy personnel to block entry points,” a government official said.