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New Delhi markets to wear a new look

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Source : The Hindu Date : 08.06.2009

New Delhi markets to wear a new look

Manisha Jha

‘Many of these markets have survived for over 50 years’

- Photo: V. Sudershan

This here is the Yusuf Zai market in Connaught Place in the Capital under renovation.

NEW DELHI: Riding on the wave of the upcoming Commonwealth Games in the Capital, several projects for redevelopment of ageing markets in the New Delhi Municipal Council area that were long gathering dust in the offices of the civic body have now got a new lease of life.

The civic body has already completed makeover of the Tibetan market and the adjoining Janpath main market and now work is under way at the Yusuf Zai market in the Outer Circle of Connaught Place. This apart, the mammoth Rs.671-crore project for redevelopment of the good old Connaught Place is also under way.

Next in the pipeline is restoration of Gole Market and redevelopment of Shankar Market, Palika Bazar, Bengali Market and Sarojini Nagar market among others.

The nature of work undertaken at these markets mainly comprises outer façade restoration of the shops, disciplining of shop signboards, changing the corridor flooring to a uniform pattern and making necessary changes to arrive at an orderly and homogeneous look to the building exterior instead of the present haphazard arrangement in place at all the markets.

“Many of these markets have survived for over 50 years and their redevelopment was long overdue in any case. It is just that the hosting of the Commonwealth Games in the Capital has given us an opportunity to improve the look of the city by giving a facelift to many of its major markets in our area. But irrespective of the Games deadline we will try to finish as many markets as possible,” a civic body official said.

Vision

Describing the vision behind putting together the “old CP” look to renovate Connaught Place and its surrounding markets, the civic body official said: “We realised that if we were to restore this horse-shoe shaped commercial centre in the heart of the Capital to its original splendour, then we should also have to redevelop the nearby markets to ensure uniformity and an aesthetic appeal. For instance, in case of the Yusuf Zai market in the Outer Circle we decided to introduce additional construction of two columns or pillars before each shop as a unique character easily identifiable with the architecture of Connaught Place.”

“However, more than putting any special architectural thought into the design and look of the existing markets, we have simply tried to enforce a uniform look to the market’s exterior with each shop’s outer façade being painted with the same colour and finish and having the same elevation. Our toughest challenge was getting all the shop keepers on board as over the years several shop keepers had completely altered the look of his or her individual shop,” he added.

But according to several experts in the field of urban design and architectural conservation, this approach to renovating old markets in the city requires treading with a fair amount of caution.

Urban Designer and Delhi Urban Arts Commission head K. T. Ravindran said: “It a good thing that old markets are being given a makeover but at the same time this should be done in the interest of the real users of the market that is the shop owners and the market visitor. For instance Sarojini Nagar market’s USP is the variety and price range offered which should not be lost when new investment is made in the market as this often tends to gentrify the use of the market.”

“Also this façade improvement of markets should be dovetailed or supplemented with an overall plan that includes proposals for regulation of traffic and pedestrian movement in these markets, landscaping and urban furniture,” he added.

Beautification

Urban Planner and Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage Delhi Chapter head A. G. K. Menon on the other hand maintained that beautification of buildings should not be done at the cost of losing the authenticity of historical structures.

Last Updated on Monday, 08 June 2009 14:29
 


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