Traders at Karol Bagh’s Ajmal Khan Road have demanded that authorities allow movement of vehicles in the market, which was pedestrianised by the North Corporation in May last year. The reason: Footfall, which took a hit amid the Covid-19 pandemic, has worsened on account of the vehicle-free zone. According to traders, shoppers are staying away as they fear exposure and contact with other people, and don’t want to walk the extra distance between their cars and the shops.
Rajesh Mehra, president of the Karol Bagh Traders’ Association, said he has written to the North MCD to revoke the decision: “Many traders will be forced to vacate their premises if the condition doesn’t improve. The area was declared vehicle free to curb traffic, but the market is anyway deserted now… there is no use putting up such restrictions.”
“Everyone wants to park their vehicles near shops, finish shopping quickly and leave,” he said.
The North Corporation had pedestrianised the nearly 1.5 km-long stretch from Pusa Road to D B Gupta Marg last year to decongest the busy area. Ajmal Khan Road, for decades, had been clogged with traffic and haphazard parking, causing inconvenience to visitors. The new plan allows only pedestrians to walk through the central stretch along with a non-motorised vehicle (NMV) zone.
K N Tuli (73), who runs a garment retail shop, said, “Sales are down by more than 70%… Forget traffic snarls, the roads are deserted. They should allow movement of cars and bikes till the virus goes. This market has existed since before Independence. Several traders here are also elderly… Allowing vehicles would be in the interest of business and will ensure safety.”
“When they had pedestrianised the market, the corporation had promised a multi-level parking facility but that is yet to come up,” he added.
Another trader, Mohit Comar, said, “Some people have even stopped opening their shops because sales are not enough to pay staff… Also, customers will not come walking in this heat.”
Mayor Jai Prakash said a contingent of traders can approach him with their problems: “If there are issues, we will listen and try to solve them.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines