Updated: March 13, 2021 8:01:09 am
To restore Chandni Chowk to its former glory, meshes of intertwined wires have been removed, with ones hanging overhead being moved underground. Officials working on the redevelopment project said this was a mammoth task — one that required the coordination of many agencies and thousands of man-hours.
Among agencies involved were the North MCD, PWD, BSES and service providers like MTNL. An official working on the project explained the process: “First trenches were dug on the road, after which agencies laid their wires in the trench. Some agencies did not put their wires directly in the trench but laid pipes containing their cables.”
An official of the PWD said that they kept digging trenches, which are around two feet wide, while they constructed the road. The wires included telephone, internet and high-tension cables. An official said, “Transformers were set up in order to convert higher voltage to lower voltage so that electricity can be supplied to households.”
The last phase of the task, which included cutting the wires that were no longer in use, was expedited only after a High Court order in January, which warned of contempt action if the wires and cables were not removed. The North MCD then wrote to the service providers and gave them 15 days to take action.
An official involved in the operation said, “Airtel, Vodafone, and other operators had already done their bit. Some wires by MTNL were still not underground so a few tiles had to be removed and the wires were put underground. It was quite a task but it is complete now. About 95 percent of the remaining wires were those that were no longer in use, since people might have taken connections many years ago but stopped using the service.” By February end, the wires that were no longer in use were cut and removed.
Parlad Singh Sawhney, the AAP MLA who is on the board of directors of the Shahjahanabad Redevelopment Corporation, said, “We are planning to undertake similar work in Jama Masjid, Meena Bazaar and Darya Ganj. We hope to take the wires underground in these areas too. But it is a very costly task and we are currently in the planning phase.”
Sources said that around half of the project cost was set aside to take the wires underground.
In July last year, traders had told The Indian Express that they faced troubles because of the trenches dug for the wires. Some placed wooden planks in front of their stores so that customers had a place to stand.
Ajay Mittal (46), who runs a shop selling Lucknow Chikan material and clothes near Paranthe Wali Gali, said, “When a house is renovated, it does temporarily trouble the residents. What matters is the outcome. I think that to achieve something big, we have to sacrifice something.”
He said that customers had dropped by 20-25 percent since work started. But he said that footfall has started going up in recent months and that traders are recovering their losses because the redeveloped Chandni Chowk is attracting a sea of customers.
Sanjay Bhargava, president of the Chandni Chowk Sarv Vyapar Mandal, said that overhead wires used to cause short circuits and fires. He added that many traders have asked for the wires to be taken underground in adjacent lanes as well. Only wires that encroached on public property have been removed while those in front of banks or private property continue to hang overhead.
Officials said that they will look into this in Phase 2 of the redevelopment project, which will focus on beautifying building facades.
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