A car-free Connaught Place will not only reduce the immediate exposure of people to air pollution but also spell boon for traders in the area contrary to fears of a slump, experts say. In fact, similar measures worldwide have translated into a dramatic increase in sales and also rentals. CP, as the area is popularly known as, is poised to become an “open-air mall” once the decision is implemented, they opine.
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Both Raj Cherubal of Chennai City Project of Anumita Roychowdhury of CSE are of the view that the notion that it will hit trade is misplaced. Cherubal, an urban planner, cited the examples of Shanghai’s Nanjing Road or USA’s Times Square to buttress his point. “The first benefit would be reduction in local exposure, secondly fall in congestion and thirdly it will be a big step towards rebuilding our public places. This is something that needs to get encouraged,” Anumita Roychowdhury of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said.
Cherubal termed the proposal, that will be rolled out for a period of three months in February, as “terrific” and one that needs to considered by all Indian cities with proper planning and design.
“Nanjing Road in Shanghai, Times Square in US are good examples. Everywhere in the world, especially advanced countries, are adopting that model. Everywhere they do this the shopkeepers benefit as rentals and profits go up dramatically. In fact, when it was implemented in Times Square long back rentals had gone up by 70 per cent,” Cherubal said.
Roychowdhury, a noted pollution expert, said that any such measure has to be executed in a more scaled up manner while echoing Cherubal that pedestrianising improves business.”Studies have proven that. The prerequisites are that the area has to be well-connected with the public transport system and CP is quite well connected in that sense. It will help improve the overall quality of life,” she said.
Trade in CP, that came up around 1930 and was losing out to newer entertainment hubs like Hauz Khas, has seen a renewed boost with the completion and opening of Rajiv Chowk metro station during the 2010 Commonwealth Games.Traders associations claim that making CP vehicle-free will not only cause discomfort to visitors but also affect business.