Biggest wholesale market of Asia for so many commodities like electrical, electronics, medicines, surgical and other goods, Bhagirath Palace in Old Delhi, witnessed yet another major fire on April 21, 2018, after December 13, 2012, when fire-brigade vehicles found great difficulty in reaching the fire-spot because of heavy encroachments on roads and footpaths. Bhagirath Palace was set up as a posh residential colony with absolutely no shops. But now there is not even a single residential house left with all buildings converted in unauthorised markets having hundreds of shops or godowns in each building. Even permanent stalls have been set up on streets of Bhagirath Palace with shopkeepers further encroaching the streets with their merchandise put on roads. As an interim measure, Bhagirath Palace streets should be made free from stalls and goods kept on streets.
Delhi High Court ordered enquiry by premier investigating agency Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) installing a tall Hanuman statue near Pusa Road (New Delhi) alleging blocking of road. Since haphazard growth of Old Delhi is even more dangerous and traffic-hazard than stalling Hanuman statue near Pusa Road, CBI enquiry in unauthorised conversion of residential colony Bhagirath Palace (Delhi) into unsystematic commercial hub is rather even more important. Rather CBI enquiry should cover such developments of commercial hubs in complete old Delhi including like Kinari Bazar which also witnessed such major fire gutting complete unauthorised commercial building on August 26, 2014.
CBI enquiry is also necessary because subsequent to front-page photos in leading newspapers in the year 2011 of an unauthorised building coming up under direct nose of the then united Municipal Headquarters at Town Hall (Chandni Chowk), with the then Municipal Commissioner assuring that the unauthorised building will not be allowed to remain, a tall commercial plaza stands there now. After an assault on a perfectly honest civic-body engineer Ansar Alam in early 2012, unauthorised conversions of old buildings into new commercial-hubs in narrow and over-congested streets of old Delhi mushroomed to make hell lives of few residents left here.
Subhash Chandra Agrawal
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)