With the Chandni Chowk redevelopment project facing a slight delay due to the Covid-induced lockdown and labour shortage, officials stated that work on revamping the 1.3-km stretch between Red Fort and Fatehpuri Masjid will be completed by November 30.
In July, the Delhi government had said the project would be finished by the last week of October.
While the 1-km stretch from Red Fort to Town Hall is complete, the 300-metre stretch from Town Hall to Fatehpuri still requires work. Delhi Jal Board’s lines would be taken underground and the old lines would be destroyed in a day or two. Following this, the Public Works Department will undertake work on the road, set tiles, and place bollards and benches. The department’s horticulture wing is expected to complete planting trees this month. Simultaneously, street lamps and signages are being put up on the first part of the stretch.
Gautam Sachdeva, who took over the project from his father Pradeep Sachdeva after he passed away this year, said, “Major decisions regarding design have been taken. Recently, we presented lamp designs to the Shahjahanabad Redevelopment Corporation and one of them was selected.” The lamps will have CCTV cameras and signages attached to them. There will be over 200 CCTVs to monitor traffic on the stretch.
Explained: What will the new Chandni Chowk look like?
The 1.3-km stretch is being turned into a car-free zone, and beautified keeping the Mughal-era architectural style in mind. The mesh of overhead wires has gone underground, fire hydrants are being set up, red sandstone seats being placed, and toilets being built. At least 175 red sandstone planters, along with a row of bollards, will be placed to mimic the Mughal architectural aesthetic, and both sides of the stretch will be lined with 250 Moulsari trees.
Sanjay Bhargava, president of the Chandni Chowk Sarv Vyapar Mandal, said, “Non-motorised vehicles will not be allowed during the day.” Water tankers are often used to ensure dust settles, he added.
The structure of a washroom at the beginning of the stretch is ready as well. An official of the contract company, MIA constructions, said: “There are four washrooms each for men and women, and a common washroom for people with disabilities.”
Meanwhile, despite the construction work, shoppers out to make wedding purchases thronged the area on Saturday. For the first time this year, traders – who faced severe economic losses due to the pandemic – were optimistic.
Aman Thakur, a shopkeeper at Lehenga House, attended to new customers every few minutes. He said, “If shoppers pour in like this, we will be able to recover our losses in six months.” The shop made a sale of Rs 80,000 till afternoon. Aman said he hoped sales will increase further after the redevelopment is completed.
While those selling wedding clothes and jewellery said sales are back to normal, others said there is hardly any difference. Sanjeev Verma, (42), a shopkeeper selling garments for women and children, said, “Footfall has increased tremendously in the last few days but people are only coming for wedding shopping. Majority of our business comes from tourists.”
Meanwhile, cycle rickshaws made rounds on the streets hesitantly. Since most of them are not licenced, they were often stopped by police and asked to go elsewhere. Santosh Pal (50), a cycle rickshaw driver, said this is the only stretch where he manages to make some money: “When I leave this stretch and go to roads surrounding Chandni Chowk, I get stuck in traffic for hours. I can make only around Rs 200 outside while I make Rs 300-400 in Chandni Chowk.”
Bhargava said there are plans to allow around 100 licenced rickshaw pullers to use rickshaws specifically designed for the stretch.
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