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‘We have tried to replicate Lal Qila infrastructure’

The project will be completed by the end of this year

Delhi Public Works Department Minister Satyendar Jain talks to The Hindu about the challenges faced during the implementation of the Chandni Chowk Redevelopment Project.

Chandni Chowk is among the most popular heritage locations in the Capital, how did the idea to redevelop it come about?

The idea to redevelop Chandni Chowk was proposed a long time ago but no government had done anything to take the proposal forward. I held many review meetings with departments concerned and assigned new architects on the project. I personally monitored and resolved many issue such as shifting of transformers, which could have cost ₹15 crore in annual rent. We had to work on the construction and infrastructure for the public toilets. We have tried to replicate Lal Qila infrastructure for the project. There used to be a canal that later got converted into a lane. We have maintained a similar pattern by expanding the width of the lane and constructing broad 8-10 metre footpaths on either side, where vehicular traffic is allowed only at night. There was huge resistance from various stakeholders on several proposals, but I held meetings with many of them and took steps to ensure the area was well-developed.

There are multiple agencies involved in the redevelopment project, how challenging was it to bring all of them on the same page?

There were many complexities and challenges while we were carrying out the redevelopment plan. For instance, all the electric cables had to be untangled and arranged properly. The electric substations and transformers had to be shifted and I had to personally monitor the locations and readjustment. I remember overseeing the readjustment of a transformer installed on the road between Lal Mandir towards Jama Masjid. It was challenging to ensure ample coordination between the agencies working on the project.

Has the COVID-19 outbreak impacted the project? Will it be able to meet its deadline by October-end this year?

It is true that that novel coronavirus has impacted various projects. There is also scarcity of labour. The project might take a little more time but it will be completed by the end of this year.

Will the project also involve facelift of structures, including facade of shops on the arterial stretch?

This is not part of the current phase of the redevelopment project, but we will surely include this in a future redevelopment phase.

Will the redevelopment be restricted only to the arterial road and its immediate vicinity or will the bylanes connected to it also be redeveloped?

The current phase of the redevelopment plan involves the stretch from Lal Qila to Fatehpuri Masjid. Extension of the project will be discussed at a later stage and we will see which other areas can be redeveloped.

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