Why Are Delhi's District Centres Choked?
Many thought district centres would lose their charm as big commercial spaces took the world of business by storm in the country's national capital. However, when recent media reports revealed that the Delhi Development Authority's district centres are facing massive traffic congestion, it was an eye-opener for those who assumed these shopping hubs were a passé. Of course, one cannot lose sight of the fact that the focal point of the report is that Delhi is choking with the rising number of vehicles and no amount of planning seems to be yielding the desired results.
It is to be noted that there are seven district centres across Delhi, "with spaces for shopping, commercial offices, cinemas, hotels, guesthouses, service industries, bus terminals, telephone exchanges, post & telegraph offices etc., each serving a population up to 10 lakh and above". These seven DC include one each in Nehru Place, Rajendra Place, Bhikaji Cama Place, Janakpuri, Laxmi Nagar, Shivaji Place (Raja Garden), Jhandewalan. Three other districts centres, Netaji Subhash Place (Wazirpur), Saket, Manglam Place (Rohini), are in the developing stage. Apart from that, there are 27 community centres, 125 convenient shopping centres and 429 local shopping centres.
Now, the DDA has told the United Traffic & Transportation Infrastructure (Planning and Engineering) Centre (UTTIPEC) to come up with detailed plans to decongest DCs, which were constructed keeping in mind a limited population number and are unable to accommodate the teeming millions.
Traffic congestion along these old setups worsens due to lack of parking space. Unlike malls and supermarkets which are developed keeping in mind the parking needs, DCs offer limited spaces. On the other hand, rentals for leasing spaces here are much less when compared to new-age swanky malls. Another interesting factor is that DCs have also not lost their charm amongst those who can just walk in to fulfil their daily needs; the assumption that small commercial centres' loss is big malls' gain has actually proved to be ill-founded. All these factors make up for a dangerous combination as far as traffic congestion is concerned.
According to the media report, the DDA is planning to put in place a mixture of long-term and short-term plans to decongest DCs by improving infrastructure facilities. In the challenge actually lies an opportunity for the DDA to revive the old markets and bring them on a par with modern private commercial setups. If the choking roads along them are any clue, DCs have a huge untapped potential.