Change has been long afoot in the lanes and bylanes of Delhi’s Chandni Chowk—there’s even a McDonald’s here. But a very different kind of change is now set to arrive in the Walled City, possibly by July next year. Giving it a fresh coat of nostalgia is the Shahjahanabad Redevelopment Corporation (SRDC). Led by Abhimanyu Dalal and his team of architects, and blessed by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, the Delhi Urban Art Commission and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, SRDC will first clear the tangled mess of overhead wiring, attempting to replicate the success of the underground cabling project in Daryaganj. Better drainage, new lamp posts, footpaths, street furniture, public utilities and restoration of the façades of crumbling buildings are also pencilled into the grand plan. A plan propitious for the Indian National Trust for Art Cultural Heritage’s (INTACH) efforts to nominate Delhi as a Unesco World Heritage City by 2012.

Yet the most ambitious subplot here is the decision to pedestrianise several key quarters of packed-to-the-gills Old Delhi. A ban on motorised vehicles will mean only rickshaws will be allowed to ply in designated service lanes, and heavy vehicles and cars will be restricted to special bays and parking lots. We’re just hoping the road to Ye Olde Dilli is paved with more than just good intentions.

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