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Chandni Chowk project: Streets to have stone signages, Clock Tower to be rebuilt

NEW DELHI: The 19th-century Clock Tower in Old Delhi which was demolished soon after Independence is all set to be 'brought back' to the Walled City as part of the ongoing Chandni Chowk redevelopment project. The Shahjahanabad Redevelopment Corporation (SRDC) in its meeting recently approved the plan to rebuild the iconic Ghantaghar that once stood in front of the over 160-year-old Town Hall, Chandni Chowk AAP MLA Alka Lamba said.

Lamba, also the director of SRDC said, "Our engineering team is looking into old designs, photographs and documents to recreate the Clock Tower as faithfully as possible". The Delhi Clock Tower, built by the British in the 1870s with its imposing Gothic look, stood on Chandni Chowk street in front of the erstwhile MCD headquarters –Town Hall, till about 70 years ago. Trams used to pass by it and on August 15, 1947, the landmark was lit up and the tricolour was hoisted on top of it to celebrate the Independence Day, as shown in old black and white pictures.

"Clock Tower or 'Ghantaghar' as it is popularly known as, is part of the folklore of Old Delhi. Despite 70 years, since its demolition, many people still refer to the place by the old name. People of Shahjahanabad are very emotionally attached to it. So, as the area MLA, I proposed it in the SRDC meeting and it was approved by it. And, the meeting was attended by all stakeholders," Lamba said.

Asked if the new clock tower would be an exact replication of the original one, she said, it is not feasible to "bring back" the same structure as it was, but efforts will be made to "rebuild it as close to the original design as possible" to "enhance the glory" of Chandni Chowk.

The SRDC as part of the Chandni Chowk redevelopment project is making a nearly 1 km-long dual carriageway stretch of the famed street, from Fatehpuri Mosque to Red Fort, pedestrianised to bring back the charm of Chandni Chowk.

"We have really gone into the intricacies of all aspects to ensure the heritage look is not compromised anywhere. And, so for signages, we are using stones, and care has been taken in choosing lamp posts and street furniture which harmonise with the heritage setting," Lamba said.

Currently, the electric wires have been put underground and other civil work is being done, besides working on the beautification plan, she said. The issue of placement of transformers and other public utilities like toilets, on the central verge, had drawn a sharp reaction from various urban planners and conservation architects, which led to a PIL being filed in the court.

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