Assessing the Rs 90-crore Chandni Chowk redevelopment project Thursday, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the stretch will be ready for public use by the first week of November.
Speaking to the media, the CM said, “We are standing at the main area of Chandni Chowk, and we are witnessing that the whole area has been redeveloped. Chandni Chowk is a historical place and has been there for ages. The historical glory of the area will be brought back through its beautification. This will be a non-motorised vehicle area from 9 am to 9 pm.”
Urban Development Minister Satyendar Jain and other officials accompanied him on his visit.
The project, which began in December 2018, was supposed to be completed by May, with Kejriwal attributing the delay to the Covid-19 lockdown. “Road reconstruction could not be completed by May due to the Covid lockdown, the area is expected to be reopened by the first week of November,” he said.
Work on the 1.3-km stretch between Red Fort and Fatehpuri Masjid restarted by May-end but gathered steam in the last two weeks. However, officials said they had to grapple with labour shortage while trying to make up for lost time.
An official associated with the project said, “There were around 550-600 labourers under Public Works Department, BSES and the Delhi Jal Board combined. Now, there are only 300.” A PWD official said, “Around 65% of the total work is complete. We are working day in and day out. The project will be completed by October.”
Work on the central verge, adorned with planters, sandstone seats and bollards which feature Mughal motifs, has been completed till Fountain Chowk — 30% of the total stretch.
Once completed, it will have a 5.4-metre-wide footpath, a 5.5-metre-wide carriageway next to it for cycle rickshaws, followed by a 3.5-metre-wide central verge with planters and bollards. Next to this will be the second 5.5-metre-wide carriageway and then a 5.4-metre-wide footpath. Four toilets, at four different locations, are also under construction.
Work is also incomplete in a few lanes, which will have pathways similar to those on the central verge, posing problems to traders.
Kishan Goyal (41), who has been running a clothes shop for 15 years, said, “Business has been heavily affected since the project began; then came the lockdown. Right now, there is no space for customers to stand as it is very muddy. I am renting wooden planks at Rs 50 a day, so that customers have a place to stand. Else no one will come to the store.”
Similar concerns were echoed by a several traders but they hope the project will benefit them in the long run. Ankit Maheshwari (28), who also owns a clothes shop, said, “The project has taken a long time. Nobody wants to walk to the stores when the roads are in this condition. But hopefully, it will be over soon and customers will start visiting again…”
Sanjay Bhargava, president, Chandni Chowk Vyapar Mandal, said, “A parking facility is being built by the North MCD. For the time being, we have been given an additional parking space at Nishad Raj Marg, which comes in between Red Fort and Shantivan. Almost 95% of the underground work is complete. It is mainly the surface work that is still left and will be completed over the next few months.”
The North MCD confirmed that the multi-level parking facility is under construction at Gandhi Maidan to accommodate over 2,300 cars and will be completed by 2022. It will have eight floors and three underground levels.
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