To sort out problems being faced by traders and to co-ordinate matters with the New Delhi Municipal Council in implementing the ambitious Connaught Place re-development project, a meeting of all stakeholders was held here this past week.

Currently facade restoration work is under way in 16 blocks of Connaught Place and construction of eight new subways in the Outer Circle is on the anvil as part of the project.

According to the New Delhi Traders’ Association, which is the biggest stakeholder in the project, the issues relating to the quality of work and the effect of shrinking spaces due to construction on their business, were among the chief issues discussed at the meeting.

On the matter of shrinking spaces, the civic agency expressed its commitment to clear all construction ‘malba’ simultaneously to minimise inconvenience to all. The traders also demanded that only facade restoration work should be completed before the Commonwealth Games and the rest of the work including building of the services tunnel and the eight subways be taken up after the Games but the civic body has decided to undertake all works simultaneously aiming to complete it by October 2010, in time for the Games.

Apart from NDTA and the civic body, the meeting was also attended by representatives from Engineers India Limited, the company roped in by the NDMC to undertake the project on their behalf.

NDTA president Atul Bharghav said: “The meeting was held to clear out pending hassles in the ongoing construction works going on in various blocks of Connaught Place and give our feedback on the quality of work completed so far as well as seek clarification on some matters.”

“How to ensure uniform facade in shops that have come up at different points in time and how to ensure uniform sized flooring in front of the verandas in all the blocks and how to minimise inconvenience to shoppers and traders were also discussed,” he added.

The plan for a new three-loop traffic circulation movement in Connaught Place mooted by the civic body as part of the overall project for redevelopment of area has so far been put on hold by the NDMC owing to strong opposition from traders.

Mr. Bharghav said: “We have been opposed to it since the inception of the traffic plan as it would mean considerable loss in business for us with visitors being forced to park their vehicles a long way off from the shops.”

Also the issue of use of granite floorings preferred by the traders due to less maintenance and long life as opposed to use of sandstone as approved by the Delhi Urban Arts Commission has also been settled with the civic body choosing to abide by the DUAC recommendations as of now.

NDMC spokesperson Anand Tiwari said: “Our first choice was also granite flooring as done in C-Block but due to DUAC’s recommendation we would be using sandstone in the other blocks. The entire facade restoration work should be completed by June 2010 and the services tunnel and construction of eight new subways would be made ready by October 2010.”

“Given the scope and challenges of the work undertaken, it has been decided that such meetings would now be held weekly to sort out all on field issues between the different parties,” he added.

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