Shoppers double in walkable Karol Bagh

Shoppers are loving the new Karol Bagh — a once congested market, which has now been turned into a pedestrian zone with benches for shoppers to sit, ornamental lights and plants on road sides. A Delhi Traffic Police assessment shows that the footfall to this popular market in central Delhi has almost doubled. Officials said more shoppers are not only visiting the market but also spending more time there.

Besides pedestrianising the roads criss-crossing the busy market, the traffic police have also implemented a one-way traffic plan there.

At least seven traffic choke points inside the market have been eased since the new traffic plan has come into effect, the police assessment showed.

Senior traffic officials said that with the new one-way traffic plan on Padam Singh Marg and Tank Road, coupled with the pedestrianisation of the Ajmal Khan Road, the frequently reported bottlenecks inside the market have cleared. Before the redevelopment plan was implemented, daily footfall in the market was estimated to be around 7,000 to 10,000 every day. Officials did not give the exact number of visitors after the one-way traffic plan was put in place.

The North Delhi Municipal Corporation had converted the Ajmal Khan Road into a pedestrian only lane from May 1 this year. Around a fortnight later, two other roads crossing the market—Padam Singh Marg and Tank Road—were made one-way.

“Our initial assessment has been extremely encouraging. There were several choke points inside the market that have now eased. Once the entire plan is put in place here we can successfully convert this market into a model for the other markets to follow,” said deputy commissioner of police traffic (central) Rakesh Pawaria.

Pawaria said at least seven points inside the market, which were once a nightmare for commuters especially during peak rush hours, now witness smooth traffic movement at all hours of the day. Pyaare Lal Road and Hardhyan Singh Road will be made one-way from June 17. By July-end, traffic on Gurudwara Road and Saraswati Marg will also be made one-way.

Varsha Joshi, commissioner, north corporation, said the idea behind the redevelopment plan was to decongest the market and attract more shoppers. “The area has been decongested and we are receiving a positive response from shoppers and traders. We have been assessing the progress of the project every day,” she said.

Joshi said that agencies are also planning to improve the condition of pavements, create parallel parking on neighbouring roads and streamline traffic movement on more roads inside the market.

Ravi Singh, a road side vendor on Padam Singh Marg, said despite initial hiccups, ever since one-way traffic restrictions were implemented on the stretch, the traffic has become smoother on the road.

“Let alone driving, earlier the visitors had to jostle even to walk. But now the picture has changed completely as there is more space to walk and drive as well. At no point during the day, does the traffic stop,” Singh said.

Ajmal Khan Road-Padam Singh Marg intersection near Mc Donald’s outlet, Padam Singh Marg near police chowki, Ratawal Chowk, Radha Krishna Mandir roundabout, Guru Ravidas Marg-Gaudiya Math converging point, Prabhat Road, and Tank Road near Shiv Mandir have been cleared up, traffic police said.

HT also conducted a spot check of the market to see if the new redevelopment plan has eased traffic movement and increased footfall in the market. Despite maintaining the parking spaces on both sides of Padam Singh Marg, the traffic does not stop even during the peak rush hours.

Nitin Kumar, who runs a garment shop on Padam Singh Marg, lauded the efforts to decongest the market area and said that the plan should be implemented on other stretches for better results.

“Earlier logjams were a common sight on this road because of traffic moving in from both sides. On road parking would worsen the situation. But the congestion has drastically gone down in the area after the implementation of traffic management plan,” Kumar said.

He added that the north corporation has increased charges of on-street parking, which has shifted the parking load to the authorised lot at Shastri Park, less than a kilometre away from Padam Singh Marg-Ajmal Khan Road intersection, leaving more space on the road for vehicles to move smoothly.

Another trader Devesh Baweja said though initially traffic restrictions had resulted in a slight slump in his business, but now more shoppers are thronging the market. The walk through the Ajmal Khan Road, without the interruption of vehicles honking behind their backs, has been a relaxing experience for most.

“Initially, people were not aware about the restrictions so they avoided coming here. But now with more traffic cops and marshals to guide the visitors about traffic restrictions and parking spaces in the market area, their number has increased,” Baweja said.

The agencies are planning to implement this model at many other markets such as Kamla Nagar, Kirti Nagar and Sadar Bazar

First Published:
Jun 10, 2019 06:14 IST

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