"One we did not know the cost factor and secondly most of us already had our own air-conditioning systems in place" said NDTA president Atul Bhargava
Four subway projects, underground parking in Inner Circle and centralised air-conditioning of Connaught Place had been proposed as part of the redevelopment project but they were opposed by the New Delhi Traders’ Association and the area residents and were subsequently scrapped.
The Government had proposed a centralised air-conditioning system for the whole of Connaught Place. The NDTA, however, opposed it as it feared that would have led to chaos. “We have to compete with the malls and have to maintain our showroom temperature at a particular level,” said a shopkeeper.
NDTA president Atul Bhargava said: “One we did not know the cost factor and secondly most of us already had our own air-conditioning systems in place. The NDMC finds it difficult to maintain air-conditioning in its own building. Besides, their electrical cables and feeder pillars were also old. This is the reason we also opposed the removal of the diesel generator sets from the rooftops. We told them that first you provide us with uninterrupted power supply for a year and then we will decide on the proposal.”
Fears not unfounded
While the fears of the traders and residents are not unfounded considering that the redevelopment project has caused many of them a lot of hardship, with the construction of the service tunnel, it would become much easier for them to review the decision.
An engineer working on the redevelopment project said once the service tunnel is ready, people will be able to revisit the issue anytime. “The space is there for the chilled water pipelines and they would only have to be laid. Plus, with more transformers and a new fire-fighting system in place, it would become easier to install the air-conditioning system. That would also give the area a better look as the private window or split ACs would then be removed.”
As per the initial proposal an underground parking was also suggested. The NDTA opposed it vehemently. “We had suffered enough for five-six years during the construction of the Delhi Metro and the business had been affected. Digging in front of the blocks would have meant another two to three year loss of business.”
The NDTA had also objected to the concept of a pedestrianised Connaught Place. Right now the cars are parked in a large area of the Inner Circle. Had the area been pedestrianised, it would have become difficult to curb the presence of drug addicts and hawkers, said a shopkeeper.
Cost comes down
Incidentally, the cost of the redevelopment project has come down significantly due to these exclusions. In late June, the New Delhi Municipal Council announced that the project cost would go down from Rs.671 crore to Rs.477 crore as it has decided to scrap some components.
The NDMC said it was doing away with the construction of four subways, the provision for centralised air-conditioning and an underground parking lot in the Inner Circle.