Making subways safer for women

Facilitating pedestrians

Making subways safer for women

Swarming with cars, public transport and pedestrians, the roads leading to Connaught Place are always in an eternal rush hour state. With its inner and outer circle chock-a-block with traffic, it makes sense to use the underground subways for crossing roads. But how many of us use them?

 “I don’t use subways, not just in CP but anywhere in Delhi. May be its only in my mind, but it’s harrowing to walk across a lonely underground path, full of stench with people darting at you sometimes,” says Arpana, a college student, choosing to brave the traffic instead. 

Perhaps it is to encourage such people that New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) opened the first cafeteria in one of the six underground subways in Connaught Place. To ward off drug addicts from inhabiting these spaces and make subways more lively and safe, especially for women, the proposal for opening kiosks and cafeterias had been doing the rounds since July. It is only very recently that the council inaugurated the first cafeteria during its centenary celebrations.
 Though this well-illuminated underground pathway opening in four directions of the outer circle of Connaught Place – Janpath Market, KG Marg, M and N Block and Palika Bazaar – was always there as a part of the cityscape, what has now changed is the vibe and ambience inside it.

A couple, sits by the stairs in the central part of Janpath subway engaged in casual banter, munching  food bought from the centrally located cafeteria which stocks up on fast food, sandwiches and beverages. Carefully manning the stalls and keeping in check the cleanliness of the subway, the attendants take turns to keep the overflowing dustbin in check. “We are open from 10 am to 9 pm in the night,” informs one attendant, while the security guard waits for the clock to strike 9 to shut the subway doors and lock it up for the night. 

“Following this subway’s popularity, there will be more bidders wanting to join in next time,” says OP Mishra, Director (IT) NDMC, confidently, adding, “When we issued tender for the subway cafeterias, only Cafe Buddy participated in it. But we wanted more variety for people in these six subways of CP, so we will be taking out another tender once this subway gains more popularity. It has just been 3-4 days since it kicked off.”

On not getting any response from Tihar Jail initiative and major cafe chains for opening kiosks in CP subways, the official says, “We cannot afford to give water supply and sewerage connections to the bidders, perhaps that is what kept them from bidding.” If the model works out, the next phase may pave the way for opening more chains in subways along with the continuation of NDMC’s graffiti drive which would encourage an ‘art attack’ on the walls of these subways, hinted the official. 

Waiting at the ledge for a friend to come by, Rimina, a publishing house employee sits around Janpath subway unaware about the new cafeteria inside. On being informed, she exclaims, “ Oh! Is it? A constructive step is any day better than nothing, for making the City a safer place for not just women but everybody. I would definitely want to use this subway more frequently now.” 

Though it sounds promising for Rimina, people need to be made aware about its existence for it to make progress. NDMC chairman, Jalaja Shrivastava says, “The subway venture is subject to satisfactory performance in the next three months.” 

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