If you’ve ever made your way across the narrow lanes of Chandni Chowk, one of the oldest and busiest markets in Old Delhi, a couple of features stand out—the unbearable traffic congestion and the lack of space for pedestrians.
This will soon change as the Unified Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure (Planning & Engineering) Centre (UTTIPEC) under the Lieutenant Governor has decided to make Chandni Chowk the first locality in Delhi where the entry of motorised vehicles will be banned between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. every day.
Only pedestrians, cycle rickshaws and e-rickshaws will be allowed to move through the popular market.
Earlier this week, Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal approved the Centre’s proposal to reserve the entire 1.5 km stretch from Red Fort to the Fatehpuri mosque for pedestrians and non-motorised vehicles, according to Hindustan Times.
“Only non-motorised vehicles such as cycle rickshaws, e-rickshaws and handcarts will be allowed to ply in the dedicated corridor during this time,” said Manish Kumar Verma, Director (Planning) at UTTIPEC, speaking to the Press Trust of India. To the uninitiated, all infrastructure projects in the city cannot proceed without the approval of UTTIPEC.
On a daily basis, Chandni Chowk receives approximately 150,000 to 200,000 people, including tourists, who are ferried by an average of 4,000 cycle rickshaws and e-rickshaws. Add that to all the cars, two-wheelers and auto rickshaws that make their way to the market, and one can only imagine the sort of congestion that occurs in the market.
“The LG has given the go-ahead to the proposal, which calls for a 5.5-metre wide carriageway on both sides, with a slight modification. Instead of two metres, the central verge will now be 3.5 metres wide. Power transformers and public facilities will be placed on the centre verge,” said Manish Kumar Verma to the Hindustan Times.
However, some have expressed their unhappiness at the latest proposal, arguing that the suggestions of key stakeholders were not taken.
“The width of footpaths has been reduced, while more space is being given to non-motorised vehicle lanes. It will create a mess. We demanded that there should be an immediate ban on unlicensed rickshaws plying in the market and loading/unloading should also not be allowed during the day as per a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order,” said a senior member of the local shopkeeper’s association to the Hindustan Times.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)