NEW DELHI: As public spaces across the capital get spruced up in the run-up to G20, Central Delhi’s historic and touristy Old Delhi quarter remains in bad shape. Claiming that they have been subjected to step-motherly treatment by the authorities, many Delhi-6 residents say that the apathy of the Central and state governments has kept the area filthy, chaotic and a ghetto for decades.
A resident of Deen Duniya House in the Jama Masjid area, Arshad Fehmi said, “Old Delhi is an integral part of Central Delhi yet there is absolutely no gearing up, beautification and traffic management exercise taking place here. Governments are acting in tandem in keeping this area filthy, chaotic and a ghetto.”
“The same attitude was seen when the city played host to the Commonwealth Games in 2010. The costs of the redevelopment of the Jama Masjid area are borne by residents. Works related to easing traffic chaos and excess footfall are also borne by them. The government wants to let us stew in our own juices.”
Echoing the same opinion, Saqib Siddique a resident of Urdu Bazar said, “The government should think about beautification of parks in and around Jama Masjid. Authorities need to regularise a traffic plan and decongest the area from flooding by unauthorised eateries on both sides of roads. Encroachments on footpaths as well as on the roads need to be cleared.”
Concerning beautification, he said, “The fountains in Meena Bazar leading to the Jama Masjid were to be made fully functional so as to beautify the whole Meena Bazar complex. This has been awaited for a long time. It is not about the G20 event but even otherwise the government has never taken this area seriously.”
Developmental works in Old Delhi – comprising of areas like Jama Masjid, Chawri Bazar, Chandni Chowk, Ballimaran, Chooriwalan, and Meena Bazar, among others – are lying unfinished while flyovers, roads, and metro stations are being redone and decorated elsewhere.
According to the Chandni Chowk Market Traders Association functionary Sanjay Bhargava, “Despite several letters and meetings, the officials have brought no concrete plan of action. During G20, markets at Connaught Place or Janpath will remain closed and many will flock to Chandni Chowk.”
Bhargava shared that on July 21, the Delhi government had issued a notification stating that a meeting under the chairmanship of excise commissioner Krishna Mohan Uppu, is scheduled at the district magistrate’s office. While the officials were to review the preparations for the upkeep and beautification of Old Delhi in view of the G20 summit, nothing really happened.” Residents even complained that instead of initiating the cleaning drive before the G20 summit, the Deputy Mayor has planned a mega campaign to clean and beautify Delhi’s walled city in partnership with local residents by starting a mobile app by September 12.