NEW DELHI: The Draft Redevelopment Plan for Special Area as notified in the Master plan 2021 for Walled City, Walled City Extension and Karol Bagh was considered in the Technical Committee of DDA in September last year and was in principle approved. In compliance to the above decision, the Town Planning Department of North Delhi Municipal Corporation issued public notices in different newspapers in December last year inviting objections/suggestions on the Special Area Redevelopment Plan before finalizing it. The various representations were forwarded to Rudrabhishek Enterprises Pvt Ltd, the civic body’s consultant, after which the report was submitted to the DDA in March this year.
Among those who had sent suggestions to the DDA were Karol Bagh Traders’ Welfare Association, The Wholesale Footwear Association, shop owners from Ghaffar Market, the Delhi Scooter Association among many others.
The redevelopment plan states, “The area has become one of the important commercial centres outside the walled city. The area is due for comprehensive redevelopment with provision for parking and upgradation of facilities and utilities.” Commercial areas of Karol Bagh have been identified as having the potential to emerge as a Metropolitan City Centre in the Special Area. The boundary of Karol Bagh Central Business District runs along the following roads: DB Gupta Road, MM Road, Panchkuian Marg, Pusa Road, Maharana Pratap Road, Main Tank Road, Vishnu Mandir Marg and Ramjhas Road.
MCD has divided Karol Bagh into Karol Bagh – Commercial Area and Karol Bagh Extension that is predominantly residential. Karol Bagh Commercial is bound by Gurdwara Road, Saraswati Marg, Desh Bandhu Gupta Road and Arya Samaj Road. The plan divides the area into six pockets – from A to F. The area bound by Bank Street, Ajmal Khan Road, Hardyan Singh Marg and Saraswati Marg was identified as pocket B and chosen for study. The existing commercial establishments in the pocket mainly deal in jewellry, saries and garments. Establishments dealing in electronic goods/mobiles, furnishings, food outlets and general stores also have substantial presence in the area.
Among the issues that have been identified in the pocket are congestion in the streets having a negative impact on the business potential; dilapidated buildings with narrow access; congested main arterial roads as volume of traffic exceeds the capacity of the roads; obstruction of vehicular movement on main roads because of encroachment by hawkers and illegal street parking; available parking being only about one-third of the required parking; encroachment of pavements by hawkers obstructing pedestrian movement; absence of organised off-street parking; lack of solid waste management; dumping of garbage in vacant plots; and presence of loose and sagging electric wires posing risk of fire hazards and electrocution.
The redevelopment plan explores two options for the pocket. Under option 1, it proposes identification of plots with dilapidated structures. It also proposes merging of plots with help from owners so that the total area can exceed 3,000 sq feet. It proposes to demolish dilapidated structures and rebuild according to prevalent development control rules and building bylaws. Rest of the buildings will be retrofitted if required to ensure safety. Facade control will be implemented. Encroachments on all internal 6m wide streets will be removed. Pavements and walkways will be constructed to the required standard. Water supply, sewerage and drainage systems will be upgraded/ augmented to desired standard taking into consideration the additional development that is likely to happen as a result of increased Floor Area Ratio.
The redevelopment work is proposed to be constructed in stages. After the listing and consolidation of plots, design of commercial building modules on the plots along with street widening and improvement in the rest of the pocket has been proposed.
Under option 2, the plan proposes to retain the front shops on streets and consider the core area for redevelopment. Methods used will be facade improvement, retrofitting and cosmetic surgery of buildings. Pedestrianisation of Ajmal Khan Road has also been proposed with green belt in between to be used as sitting area.
However Prof PSN Rao, Chairman, Delhi Urban Art Commission, was sceptical about the proposal and said, “Karol Bagh is a colony that was developed five decades ago by the erstwhile Delhi Improvement Trust. The properties are owned by private parties, and asking them to amalgamate their properties so as to accumulate 3000 sq feet, for the purpose of redevelopment, is a very difficult task. People may not come forward. Infrastructure augmentation happens in the public domain, on the road space, and therefore that may not be a problem. Further, there is a problem of tenants in Karol Bagh who have been staying there for several decades now. Rent Control law also is a problem. Therefore, in my opinion, redevelopment of Karol Bagh is a complex task and cannot be easily accomplished, without untangling several basic issues.
He further added, “On the option of cosmetic surgery of the facade of the buildings, I find this is of no use at all, as it will not achieve any meaningful purpose.”