Future perfect: The ‘Place’ to be in

- April 12, 2024
| By : Tanisha Saxena |

Bhikaji Cama Place and Nehru Place set to get facelift, return to their old days of glory

WALK IN THE AIR The skywalk connecting Nehru Place Metro Station to the Market Plaza was inaugurated in February

Transformation is underway in Delhi’s two iconic hubs of commerce and community: Bhikaji Cama Place and Nehru Place. 

With modern office spaces, upscale retail outlets, and residential complexes, Bhikaji Cama Place buzzes with activity, drawing a diverse crowd of professionals, entrepreneurs, and residents. Its strategic location and robust infrastructure make it a sought-after destination for business, networking, and upscale living.

Not long ago, Bhikaji Cama Place faced neglect and decay. An accessibility audit in 2012 by Svayam — National Centre for Inclusive Environments, revealed neglect for public infrastructure and maintenance there. 

Pedestrian pathways were obstructed, sewer water overflowed, and facilities were inaccessible, posing risks, especially to the elderly and differently abled. 

However, there is hope as efforts are now underway to address these problems and revitalise the complex. Initiatives focused on improving accessibility, maintenance standards, and community engagement are gradually transforming the once-neglected space into a more functional and inclusive environment.

Sewage-laden roads to chic thoroughfares

Today, the landscape surrounding Ansal Chamber I stands in stark contrast to the grim picture of the past. The once harrowing ordeal of navigating through roads inundated with sewer water has been replaced by smoothly paved pathways, inviting pedestrians to stroll without impediment. 

Thanks to meticulous redesigning efforts, the ramps that once lay dormant now serve their intended purpose, facilitating seamless connectivity for commuters. 

“The changes we’ve seen here are significant, but they didn’t happen overnight. It took a considerable amount of time to address the issues with the roads and sewer system. But now, looking around, the improvement is evident in every corner of the complex,” says Ikbal Ahmed, 43, a security guard in the office building. 

“Being a shopkeeper around here, we’ve had a tough time without a group to voice our concerns. But now, with the multilevel parking under construction, things are looking brighter. We’ve struggled for years, especially with sewage problems making the area messy and smelly. However, those issues have been finally sorted, thanks to recent improvements,“ shared Pradeep Kumar, 30, who owns a photocopy shop in one of the complexes in the area.

“With the new parking lot coming up, it seems that our neighbourhood is getting a much-needed facelift. We’re feeling optimistic about the future, knowing that our troubles are being taken care of one by one.” 

The car parking system also offers a ray of hope to several mechanics, who have cropped up in the nearby areas including Palika Bhawan. 

Multilevel parking to address problems

A petition for saving the pedestrian way and sub arterial roads of Bhikaji Cama Place from the parking mafia was initiated by Phool Singh Sharma, an engineer, in 2017. He started the petition with the intention of garnering support from the community to address the pressing issue of illegal parking and reclaim pedestrian spaces in the area. 

The petition highlighted how vehicles were unlawfully occupying footpaths and arterial roads, forcing pedestrians onto the main roads, thereby endangering their lives. Despite the presence of various authorities, including the Central Government, Delhi Government, South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), Delhi Development Authority (DDA), and Delhi Police, the parking mafia operated with impunity, charging exorbitant fees and disregarding regulations. 

However, today, there’s a glimmer of hope as efforts are underway to alleviate the problem. The construction of a multi-level car parking facility signifies a step towards resolving the issue, indicating a more organised system for managing parking and ensuring pedestrian safety. This development marks a positive shift towards reclaiming pedestrian spaces and curbing the influence of illegal parking activities in Bhikaji Cama Place. 

Vikrant Srivastava, 40, a builder from the area, remarks, “Presently, significant strides have been made in resolving longstanding issue, marking a noticeable shift towards enhanced organisation. This transformation is particularly noteworthy given the bustling nature of Bhikaji Cama Place, renowned as a hub of business and offices. Previously plagued by chaotic parking arrangements, the area has undergone remarkable improvement. Illegally parked cars no longer clutter the area outside buildings, alleviating the challenges faced by commuters navigating through the area. The implementation of a more structured parking system has not only mitigated congestion but also heralded a safer and more orderly environment for pedestrians and motorists alike.”

In March 2017, the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs tasked the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) with the revitalisation of three key commercial hubs: Nehru Place, Bhikaji Cama Place, and Basant Lok Market. While Basant Lok Market has been redone, revamp of both the other places started pretty late. 

“The completion is imminent, and I’m hopeful it’ll bring some work opportunities for us as well,” remarks Sarath Tyagi, a 26-year-old auto driver in the vicinity. He prefers dropping people off at their destinations within the Bhikaji Cama Place area and doesn’t venture far. 

“The multilevel parking will be completed soon, hopefully. But I see the other project as a beacon of hope. There’s a mall-cum-office complex coming up soon. I hope my earnings will increase with increase in footfall.”

Tyagi is referring to Delhi’s World Trade Centre, a sprawling project covering 25 acres, which is nearing completion with four out of 12 buildings ready for occupancy. Developed by NBCC, it boasts modern amenities and a prime location on the Ring Road, offering office spaces to private corporations and government departments. It will indeed add on to the facelift of Bhikaji Cama Place. 

Talking about the parking facility, a DDA official points out, “We are making significant progress in addressing parking issues at Bhikaji Cama Place by constructing a ramp-based multilevel car parking facility. With a tentative completion deadline set for September 2024, the Rs 40-crore project, largely funded by the Centre, aims to offer modern parking solutions. The facility will accommodate 420 four-wheelers, include provisions for electric vehicles and persons with disabilities. This initiative forms part of a broader effort to enhance the commercial complex’s infrastructure, promising a more organised and efficient parking system for visitors and commuters.”

Step Up to the Sky 

In February, the inauguration of a skywalk connecting Nehru Place Metro Station to the Market Plaza in Delhi, aimed at improving pedestrian safety and easing commute proved to be a huge transformation for the locality. 

Costing ₹75 crore, the project included various infrastructural upgrades such as plaza enhancement, smart light poles, amphitheatre development, and sewage system replacement. The initiative focussed on enhancing the aesthetic appeal of the area while facilitating seamless movement for the thousands of daily visitors to Nehru Place, a significant commercial hub in Asia for electronics and accessories. 

Mehandar Pal, a security guard at Nehru Place’s Metro station, explains, “Indeed, this expansive five to six-metre skywalk serves as a vital link connecting the bustling metro station to the vibrant market and office spaces across the road. Its presence is truly a boon to the community, alleviating the inconveniences once faced by commuters navigating this bustling area. Prior to its construction, accessing the metro station posed challenges, particularly given the hub of restaurants and shops surrounding it. Now, with this well-designed skywalk in place, residents and visitors alike can traverse the area with ease, enjoying seamless connectivity and enhanced accessibility.”

ADDING VALUE: The World Trade Centre on the Ring Road is near completion. It will lift the profile of all the nearby areas

The Nehru Place market is a bustling commercial and business hub renowned for its sprawling electronic and IT markets. Named after Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, the area is a vibrant maze of shops, offices, and eateries. Its iconic architecture and energetic atmosphere make it a magnet for tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, and shoppers alike. From hardware to software, gadgets to accessories, Nehru Place offers a plethora of options for all technology needs. It’s not just a marketplace; it’s a melting pot of innovation and commerce. 

“Nehru Place Market is in serious need of some attention. The elevators are constantly on the fritz, and it seems like nobody’s bothering to check them properly. The buildings are looking pretty rundown too, with chipped paint and layers of dust covering everything. Even the pedestrian walkways are falling apart, making it risky for people to get around. It’s disheartening because Nehru Place used to be bustling with activity, but now it’s just looking neglected. Someone really needs to step in and give it a makeover before things get any worse,” tells Mukesh Kharbanda, 59, who owns a hardware store. 

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has plans to revamp the market in the near future as well.