Former Union Minister Vijay Goel, senior BJP leader Prakash Javdekar and prominent heritage lover Firoz Bakht on Saturday led a candle light march procession through the historic Walled City area of Delhi to protest against the neglect of the Chandni Chowk and Jama Masjid areas by both the Central and Delhi Governments ahead of the Commonwealth Games.
The procession also denounced the rampant corruption in the preparations and said it had only brought shame to the nation. The march witnessed the participation of a large number of residents of these areas.Holding aloft banners and placards, the protesters criticised the Congress-led UPA Government in the Centre and the Delhi Government for the utter neglect of the Walled City.
“When about Rs. 35,000 crores ($8 billion) have been spent, as per very conservative estimates, on the preparations for the Commonwealth Games. It pains us that the Central and State Governments have not bothered to spend any money in this historic area that has the potential to attract a large number of tourists,’’ said Mr Goel.
“The Delhi Government has been callous and not paid any attention to this area and the result is that even today the frontage of heritage buildings is dirty, the roads and lanes are full of dangling thick network of overhead cables, big garbage heaps are lying all around, pavements are crumbling and road verges are all broken.’’
“Even the money that was promised for the development of this area was not released while thousands and thousands of crores have been wasted in relaying already constructed roads and demolishing and construction pavements that were in good condition in Lutyens’ Delhi,’’ he said.
The BJP leader also criticised the Delhi Government for neglecting the Walled City.
“On April 28, Delhi Urban Development and Finance Minister A.K. Walia had announced that Rs.4.50 crore have been sanctioned for removing all overhanging wires in the area and placing them underground to improve the look of the various localities in Shahjahanabad. He had made the announcement during a visit to various parts of the Walled City, including Darya Ganj and Ramlila Grounds, but the promise was soon forgotten.’’
Mr. Firoz Bakht and Ratish Nanda, a famous conservation architect supported Mr. Goel’s views and pointed out that there are 90 havelis, 492 temples, 387 mosques and many school libraries in the area, which have been totally neglected. As against this thousands of crores of rupees have been spent on Connaught Place’s beautification. Albeit Connaught Place even today is totally dug-up, disorganised and full of debris.
Mr. Javdekar said the intervention of the Prime Minister for maintaining the deadlines of the preparatory work in itself was shameful. ``It proves beyond doubt that everything has gone topsy-turvy. It is a matter of great concern that the Prime Minister has woken up so late to put the things right for CWG. It has happened only after the preparations have been found grossly sub-standard by the International Agencies and the foreign delegates. The common man feels that once the Games will be over the enquiry into the corruptions will also be totally forgotten,’’ he said.