After initiating a pilot project on decongestion in Karol Bagh, the North Delhi Municipal Corporation now plans to expand the scheme to other areas to promote the use of public transport and make market areas more pedestrian-friendly. A senior official of the NDMC said, the expansion of the project will happen after polls and basic groundwork is being done at present.
"After seeing the response at Karol Bagh, we are now planning to do a similar project in Kirti Nagar and Kamla Nagar market areas. World over, from London to Shanghai, pedestrianisation of market areas have enhanced shoppers' experience, and we also want people of Delhi to feel that comfort," NDMC Commissioner Varsha Joshi told PTI. Seeking to promote the use of public transport and make commercial areas pedestrian-friendly, the north corporation has hiked parking fees for using Karol Bagh street.
Prior to that, a stretch of Ajmal Khan Road in the area was pedestrianised on Wednesday. Senior NDMC officials on Saturday said the approval for the project and on parking fee hike was taken just before the elections dates were announced.
Ajmal Khan Road for decades has been clogged with traffic and haphazard parking inconveniencing visitors. "This project had been first conceptualised in 2010 but could not take off for some reasons. So, we picked up this zone as soon I took charge at NDMC, and engaged with market associations and created off-street parking spaces by utilizing old, defunct municipal spaces," Joshi said.
On Wednesday, visitors were taken by surprise when they found a stretch of the nearly one-km road decongested, and pavements lined with benches and the street decorated with flower pots. "About 600 metre of the Ajmal Khan Road has been pedestrianised, rest of it is done. People were taken by surprise, as we did most of the work at night time, from installing benches to painting kerbs, etc," she said.
The street has been marked with yellow and white stripes demarcating space for hawkers. Besides, bollards have been put at the entry points of Ajmal Khan Road — on Pusa Road and Arya Samaj Road — to restrict the entry of vehicles to the road. Joshi said, the project could not have been executed without arranging alternative parking spaces, and so, off-street parking zones were built in a couple of places nearby, adding, the idea is to enhance the shopping experience and encourage walking among people.
In pursuance of its pilot project to decongest Karol Bagh and disincentivise the use of private cars, the NDMC has increased surface parking rates on the portion of the Arya Samaj Road. The civic agency has increased the parking charge for cars from Rs 20 to Rs 40 for the first hour. For the second hour, the charge will be Rs 50; between two and three hours, the rate will be Rs 60; between three and five hours, it will be Rs 70; and for over five hours, the charge will be Rs 300.
Also, instead of perpendicular parking, parallel parking is being implemented to give more access of the Arya Samaj road to pedestrians, the commissioner said. "We are testing waters, and perhaps would like to really scale up to include al major market areas in north Delhi in future. Walking is a pleasant experience and when people are at ease, they shop more. So, shopkeepers also should know that it is a win-win situation," she said.
The Shahjahanabad Redevelopment Corporation has also launched a similar project to remove vehicles from Chandni Chowk and work on which is currently underway.
(With inputs from agencies.)