The Calcuttan inside me walked past the enormous ivory pillars of Connaught Place and a familiar, melodious tune was constantly playing inside my head: ‘‘Yeh Delhi hai mere Yaar, Bas Ishq Mohabbat Pyaar”. I was contemplating on writing about another wonderful tryst of mine with the brainchild of Robert Tor Russell, however, this time I felt the need to talk to people to whom this place mattered as much as it did to me. And I swear that this walk down the memory lane, was the most emotional I have ever embarked upon.
According to Mr Mahesh, a Connaught Place veteran, ”Connaught Place according to me was always an open space with a beautiful old colonial structure. During the good old times, there was almost no traffic and there were a few hawkers on the pavement from whom we bought books and roamed around freely, even at night. Considering the situation now, it is difficult to go there even during the day. I remember going there once on New Year’s Eve and surprisingly had no issues with parking even on that day. But it is not even remotely possible now”
Mr Sumit Soni from Northland explains ”Connaught Place has now become a big garbage collection area. I was born here and my family has been here since 1951. The situation is sad today. For me, it still is the most beautiful place with its huge verandahs and one of the most convenient shopping areas. Where else would you have such ease of parking? The present situation is simply a case of mismanagement and the corrupt bureaucracy is to be blamed. We are trying to make the government understand, let us see”.
It is not that everyone is aware of the problems Connaught Place is plagued by, enlightening people on the same is what is absolutely essential. ‘‘Connaught Place is a good market place and is very pretty but I don’t really get time to go around the place. My work starts at 10 am, I get done with it in the evening, take the metro and go back home, so I cannot really elaborate much’‘, says Ms Surbhi Sharma of DIMS
Connaught Place is nothing but gradually reducing to shambles and we are the ones who are supposed to take responsibility for the same. The lack of action on our part constitutes the ineffectiveness of the system. Reading up on things and speaking about them is easy, anyone can do that, but immediate action is the need of the hour. Let us prevent this glorious landmark from becoming a part of those yellowing pages of the millions of books its pavements boast of. Let us save Connaught Place because this beauty deserves to be saved, it is worth being preserved.
Hindustan Times has taken a lead on this, to ask the Chief Minister to commit to a deadline and finish up work by that deadline. A petition has been compiled here, for this urgent need of restoration. We urge all citizens to sign it and save CP from turning into a forgotten fragment of the glorious history of Delhi.