Walker-friendly Connaught Place: Shoppers hail move but traders grumblehttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/walker-friendly-connaught-place-shoppers-hail-move-but-traders-grumble-5808038/

Walker-friendly Connaught Place: Shoppers hail move but traders grumble

The plan to pedestrianise the shopping hub was tested Sunday by the New Delhi Municipal Council, under which movement of cars in the inner circle was restricted only to parking lots.

Boys make use of the empty inner circle at Connaught Place to shoot TikTok videos. (Express Photo: Abhinav Saha)

From reduced noise levels to ease of access for walking, shoppers hailed restrictions on movement of vehicles inside the Connaught Place inner circle Sunday, but “empty showrooms” and a fall in sales at petrol stations have created resentment against authorities.

The plan to pedestrianise the shopping hub was tested Sunday by the New Delhi Municipal Council, under which movement of cars in the inner circle was restricted only to parking lots.

Barricades were put up on roads leading to the inner circle from the middle circle. NDMC staff said response to the move was largely positive, though there was little awareness among people. There was one instance of a motorist being issued a challan after he became violent.

An NDMC spokesperson said, “Footfall increased considerably… We will examine issues that came up with the help of experts.”

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Many shoppers and visitors to the hub said restricting vehicle movement in the inner circle created a “good environment” for shopping. Khyati Arora (30), said, “Cars and bikes should be kept away… from a security point of view. There’s less honking and traffic jams today, people are able to move about freely.”

Others like Deepak Narain (34) said while Metro connectivity to Connaught Place makes it a “sensible place” to pedestrianise, authorities should introduce conveyance for the elderly and disabled. Mohammed Irfan (29) said he was unaware of the move and had trouble finding parking.

The NDMC spokesperson said e-vehicles were used to ferry those unable to walk to the inner circle, and added that similar support would be provided if the area is pedestrianised in future.

Meanwhile, showrooms and pumps in the inner circle complained of a fall in sales. Uttam Das, manager of Vintage Retail, said, “By 3 pm Sunday, our sales are around Rs 1 lakh. But today, it’s just Rs 20,000.” Ajay Sharma, manager of Mohanlal Sons, said, “Despite a sale, the showroom is nearly empty. Sunday is our main business day…”

While NDMC staff allowed motorists to access petrol pumps in the inner circle, attendants said business was hit. “By 11 am on a Sunday, we sell around 150 litres of petrol. It’s past 2 pm and we haven’t crossed 50 litres today.”

Calling the move “completely irrelevant”, the New Delhi Traders’ Association had staged a protest at the shopping hub Saturday.