Delhi is a pedestrian-unfriendly city and as a group,pedestrians are one of the most vulnerable groups on the citys roads. But a new project aims to rehabilitate them on the citys streets and the cityscape.
The idea is not new. Pedestrianisation,a project that is built upon the idea to make Delhi a pedestrian-friendly city was taken up by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and cleared by the governing body called the Unified Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure (Planning & Engineering) Centre or UTTIPEC in 2010. The project,however,remained at a planning stage due to implementation issues between the concerned agencies.
After two years,the project has finally started to take shape in Karol Bagh and Chandni Chowk two areas showcasing the unique cultural identity of Delhi. The upcoming project would be the first of its kind in India. The project was to be implemented by 2011 but because of certain issues between the MCD and the Traffic Police,we were not able to reach a consensus. But now,that has been done and the trial run has been started at the two locations that we identified, says Ashok Bhattacharjee,Director,UTIIPEC.
Project Pedestrianisation aims at converting and restructuring busy streets by prohibiting vehicular movement and accommodating facilities that would turn the stretch into a pedestrian plaza.
Bhattacharjee says that in order to make the city pedestrian friendly,banning motor vehicles is a necessary step. In older days there used to be a chowk,where there was unobstructed movement of pedestrians,no vehicles around and people came out on streets every evening to have a light conversation. We aim to recreate that atmosphere where people can move around freely,there are hawkers sitting on the roadside,there are benches on the side where people can sit and talk,some cafes queued on the other side where people can go eat and have conversations while some people are playing music on the other end. We are working on complete revitalisation and urban renewal, says Bhattacharjee.
According to a study conducted by UTTIPEC,Western influences led to a shift in the concept of development. Building of highways,flyovers,subways have become indicators of a developing city,amidst which,a pedestrian is often ignored.
There is a lack of understanding among motor vehicle owners and a pedestrian is not given importance. Hence there was a need to go beyond the conventional way of looking at the problem, says Bhattacharjee.
This project will emphasise on holistic development,on one side the pedestrians will have access to a walkable enclosed space,and on the other side,they will have an access to a high speed transit system,a senior UTTIPEC official said. The project is however still at a planning stage and designs are expected to be finalised in two months.
Karol Bagh: Ajmal Khan Road
The governing body along with the concerned civic agencies have started the work to pedestrianise Ajmal Khan Road. As a first step,the Karol Bagh road network is being used to create a one way loop system for smooth movement of transport,while Ajmal Khan Road has been reserved for pedestrians and non-motorised transport.
To see if it will work,a trial run of a one-way loop circulation of traffic,from Arya Samaj Road to Saraswati Marg has been done. Also a table top crossing and synchronised signals between Pusa Road-Ajmal Khan Road junction is proposed to be implemented.
The market associations of Karol Bagh,however,raised objections saying that prohibition of vehicles in the area will directly affect their sales. If people are not allowed to bring their cars in then they will stop coming to the market which will incur huge losses. Keeping in mind the requirement of market associations including shopkeepers and stakeholders,three parking sites for stack parking have been identified around the area.
The authorities have been asked to assure that optimum capacity for parking on the designated parking areas should be appropriately planned to cater requirement of all vehicles.
Additionally,high parking fees will be levied on vehicles parked in the stack parking sites,to deter people using motor vehicles,an official said.
Screeching horns,with drivers frantically trying to push their way through narrow lanes is a common sight at the Chandni Chowk market. But with the new pedestrianisation project,the face of the market is expected to be completely revitalised.
According to the proposal,the movement of cycle rickshaws and motor vehicles will soon be prohibited in this area for the implementation of the project . Parking of the private and public vehicles will also be prohibited.
At present,the main problem of Chandni Chowk are the narrow roads and n number of vehicles entering the narrow stretch causing congestion. For the implementation of the same,we have proposed that the Chandni Chowk will be closed for private motor vehicular traffic from 9 am to 9 pm, says an official.
As with the Karol Bagh project,four parking sites around the market will provide parking facilities to motorists. High parking charges,however,will be implemented by introducing parking meters to encourage short term parking and discourage long term parking of vehicles,an official said.
The proposal also envisages feeder services from the parking sites to Chandni Chowk will be introduced as a Park and Ride facility for private car owners,the official added. To manage the vehicular movement in the surrounding area,the traffic police has been asked to make slip roads at the busy Shyama Prasad Mookherjee Marg-Netaji Subhash Marg junction operational.
Once the project is completed,battery operated buses and other para-transport modes will be allowed on the pedestrian street of Chandni Chowk,says an official.