Restoration work is on at a frantic pace but with only 72 days to go for the Commonwealth Games questions are being raised over timely completion. New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) is yet to finish facade restoration work in any of the 14 blocks except for the model ‘C’ block but is confident that August 31 deadline will be met.
Work on subways is also under way but none of the three new subways will be completed before the Games some of them are overflowing with water and have been closed. The existing five subways, which were supposed to be upgraded with escalators, might have to do without them. And the big debate about flooring granite or sandstone has ended in a vacuum with the NDMC deciding not to change it at all.
Allaying fears of delay, an NDMC official said: ‘‘Work is on track. Facade restoration will be completed in three blocks each in Outer Circle and Inner Circle by July 31. Parking is functional outside blocks C and D and more lots will be ready outside E and F by July 31. All the work in CP will be completed by August-end. No changes will be made to the flooring.’’
But traders are keeping their fingers crossed. Only 60% of the work has been completed. Said a trader: ‘‘With the way things are progressing, it seems unlikely that the facade restoration work in the backlines of the 14 blocks will be completed before the Games. There is no proper planning.’’ The traders gave the example of blocks-G and H where hardly any work seems to have taken place in terms of facade restoration.
While NDMC is not willing to accept that the CP project will miss its deadline, it has still suggested putting up visual breaks in areas where work has not been completed, according to traders. This could include putting up curtains or placing plants. Said New Delhi Traders Association, secretary Vikram Badhwar: ‘‘We agreed for facade restoration work because we thought it would give us a competitive advantage over malls. However, we never thought that it would translate into losses.’’
Traders feel that the situation is far worse than what is being projected by NDMC as the civic body has already missed the deadline — June 30 — laid down by it earlier. According to traders, planning to restore CP to its original glory began in 2006. The work on the project started in 2007, with NDMC taking up the model ‘C’ block — which was only completed in 2009.
Asked a trader: ‘‘What led them to believe that they could complete everything by the Games when they started only in 2009. Who is answerable for the Rs 600 crore they have spent on the CP restoration project?’’
Kunwar Raj Singh, owner of S.M & Sons, said: ‘‘My shop is in the Regal block. After digging up the area, they discontinued with the facade restoration work some two months ago. The civic body removed the signboard from the shop also. While we have nothing against the restoration work, NDMC should have taken it up in a more planned manner.’’
COST OF REDEVELOPING THE AREA
Around Rs 600 crore
The facade of all 14 blocks is being restored. NDMC says 90% work is over and certain blocks will be ready by next week. However, traders claim only 60% work has been completed
Traders say only the front facade might be completed before the Games
Work on five existing subways at Janpath, Parliament Street, Super Bazaar, Baba Kharak Singh (BKS) Marg and Kasturba Gandhi (KG) Marg will be completed by August. But some of the subways will be inaugurated without the escalators
The four subways under construction will not be ready before the Games
Service-ducting is on in Middle Circle. NDMC says wires and pipelines will be shifted underground only after Games
Construction of parking sites outside certain blocks has begun and NDMC claims some parking lots in Inner Circle will be ready by next week
While work has started in Inner and Outer circles, NDMC is yet to start construction of parking sites in Middle Circle
NDMC refutes traders’ claims that the civic agency plans to reduce parking in CP
Multi-level parking lots, under construction at BKS Marg and KG Marg, will not be functional before the Games