Eager to get the Connaught Place rid of the small air-conditioning machines that stand out as eyesores by either jutting out of windows or when they are placed on the parapet walls of the colonial buildings, New Delhi Municipal Council chairman Jalaj Shrivastava is keen on getting the entire Connaught Place centrally air-conditioned.

While a proposal to the effect had been mooted at the time when renovation of the Connaught Place was taken up, but it was shelved. Now with an Indian Administrative Service officer taking over charge, the files are being dusted and the plans being revived.

“My biggest dream is to provide central air-conditioning to all buildings in Connaught Place. We can have a centralised cooling system and cooled air can be supplied through pipes in all buildings.”

To further the project, Mr. Shrivastava said soon after the Delhi Assembly elections, a meeting of the Council members would be convened to discuss the issue. “We may require financial assistance under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission for this,’’ he said.

He said the Connaught Place renovation work would also be put on the fast track. Admitting that there has been an undue delay in the project, which should have been completed in 2010, Mr. Shrivastava blamed the contractor, Engineers India Limited, for adopting a casual approach towards the work.

But now, he said, “the NDMC has decided to take the reins in its hands.” Elaborating on the subject, he said the Council would “remove the company from all the works in a phased manner and we will carry out the repair and maintenance ”.

As for the overall maintenance of the Connaught Place, Mr. Shrivastava said a new company would be brought in for the job. As a matter of abundant precaution, he said, this time there will be “clearly defined deliverables along with penalty clauses”.

The NDMC Chairman said while demands are constantly placed on the Council to improve and streamline the parking in areas like the Connaught Place and Khan Market, the need of the hour was to “change the mindset of people”.

Advocating the need for promoting and taking to public transport in a big way, Mr. Shrivastava said cars were more of “status symbols” and the fact remained that it is increasingly becoming difficult to find surface parking in such congested market places.

He also noted that since motorists prefer surface level lots, parking usually always remains available at the multi-storeyed and underground parking lots at Baba Kharak Singh Marg and Palika Bazar.

As for the public transport, Mr. Shrivastava said Delhi has now a good road and Metro network and even the last mile connectivity has been taken care of by auto-rickshaws and cycle rickshaws.

On the other major challenges, as perceived by him, the NDMC Chairman said he is focussing on improving garbage disposal and tackling water-logging effectively.

“We had given a contract to a private company for the collection and disposal of garbage a few years ago, but it failed in its duties and so we have now the NDMC staff deployed for the task and a tender floated to engage the services of a new company.”

Apart from this, Mr. Shrivastava said the emphasis now is on the use of technology for improving garbage handling and disposal. The NDMC is now planning a five-digit helpline on which people would be able to register their complaint any time.

Assuring that the response to the complaints would be quick, Mr. Shrivastava said NDMC would also put a map on its website and the residents would be able to locate their sanitation inspector’s name and address through it.

On water-logging, he said the problem primarily comes from the drainage system being nearly 100 years old and the population having increased by eight to nine times in this period. Over and above that, Mr. Shrivastava said the drains often get blocked due to construction debris and garbage that finds its way into them.Here again, NDMC is relying on the use of technology to literally clean up the system. Orders have been placed for two super-sucker machines for cleaning of the major drains.

Besides, Mr. Shrivastava said NDMC is planning to use the construction debris and other waste for making bricks. Stating that a small plant would be required, he said a pilot project has recently been launched by the Ministry of Urban Development in this field. The NDMC is now going to organise a workshop on November 8 and 9 to deliberate this issue and identify suitable options.

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