Eighty-year-old B G Khullar stands near H-block in Connaught Place waiting for someone to help him get to the Middle Circle where he lives. At his age, walking in itself is an effort. But now, he has to navigate through uneven roads and dug-up pathways to reach home after completing his daily chores.
Khullar says he might have to move out of Connaught Place, which has been his home for close to 70 years because of the ongoing work here. “It is difficult to walk to my house with the area being dug-up and electric cables lying exposed. I live in H-block, Middle Circle, and have been living here since 1943 when the British still ruled India. My wife is 73 years old and can hardly move. I have to come down at least twice a day to do my chores since there is no one else living with us. My daughter lives in Faridabad and is insisting I move in with her. But I don’t want to leave CP. It is the heart of the city. It once used to be a heaven but these people have turned it into hell,’’ says Khullar as Mahinder Singh, one of the shopkeepers in the lane, helps him get home.
Singh’s shop has been lying shut for years as it has become inaccessible after the place was dug up.
“People have forgotten what CP used to be like. It was much better before they started work here,’’ says Singh.
According to the Charanjeet Singh, manager of Wengers, a pastry shop in A-block, they have not been able to get regular supply of goods due to the digging at the back of their shop. “Business has dropped by 20 per cent in the last two years. The digging at the back of our shop has blocked access for our supplies. There is also a major water problem in this area,’’ he says.
Sunil Malhotra, who is a partner of Embassy restaurant, said: “This restaurant opened in 1948. I have seen many changes in the area. After the Commonwealth Games, business picked up but then it started suffering once the digging resumed. The area is dusty and there is hardly any place for parking because of digging and barricading. Connaught Place might be revived to its pristine glory after all the work is done. But the question is how long will business establishments hold out while suffering losses. Slowly, the Indian brands are going away and multi-national stores are opening up. This is a setback to the originality of this place.’’
For Bercos, a Chinese-Thai restaurant in G-block, business has gone down from 100 per cent to 10 per cent. “Lack of parking and walking space have really affected business,’’ said Lobsang, manager of Bercos.