Wednesday, July 11, 2007

City Chronicle - The Mall-Made Mess

The leafy Nelson Mandela Marg is being sacrificed to Shining India.

[Text and picture by Pearl Toppo; she runs the blogsite Journey Called Life.]

Memories of the Past

My favourite road in the city has to be the Nelson Mandela Road, the one connecting Vasant Vihar to Vasant Kunj, my neighborhood. Everyday while returning home, this long stretch of road used to help me unwind. Surrounded by forests on both the sides it made the experience almost out of this world. I remember driving on this road during rains with my college friends, pulling over and getting out of the car and getting completely drenched. Watching the setting sun or waving at the airplanes flying real low were experiences forever linked with that time of my life.

Witnessing the Present

Now, a mall is being constructed on the right side of the road. This is to be the largest mall in Asia and the fourth largest in the world. My God!

When I uncovered this bit of information in one of the news articles I almost died of shock! My mind was flooded with scary thoughts of the forest being replaced by eyesores like concrete, traffic jams, and general congestion. Thankfully the Supreme Court stayed the construction of the malls in May 2006, as there was no clearance from the Ministry of Environment. To my dismay the Apex court lifted the stay order and construction was resumed early this year.

Each day as I drive past the construction site I get a feeling of loss; the buildings look brawny and the forest diminished. Already the cool breeze that flew from the trees have now turned into dust storms. What bothers me more is that this is a trend gradually invading the entire city. There are numerous malls coming up in just Vasant Kunj! Why do we suddenly need so many malls? Shouldn’t we try and maintain a balance between nature and man?

Accepting the Future

I console myself by accepting that change is inevitable. I think about the thousands of people who would be employed in these malls, thousands of families who would be able to sustain themselves due to this mall. The mall, of course, will also have a huge impact on the rocketing real estate prices.

Someone’s Loss is Someone’s Gain

Perhaps it is ok if I have lost my favourite road to commercialization. Someone is gaining livelihood. Right?

[This article was written exclusively for The Delhi Walla.]


Meenakshi Singh Chauhan...a.k.a. Minx, said...

hey mayank, I am quite sure the picture isn't over the right mall construction!

Meenakshi Singh Chauhan...a.k.a. Minx, said...

Pearl i think commercialisation to an extent is fine, thinking of the parallel road to VK, behind JNU which one never travelled at night but feel safe to do so now. However i don't undersatnd why we need so many malls. At first it was only Gurgaon one worried about but now Noida, Vasant kunj and Saket are being invaded. And also its just adding more strain to the city with more and more labourers coming in but what happens when construction ends?

Supriya Anand said...

your article leaves a very amiable impact on the reader, after you resovle to your loss, by saying it would help someone sustain their life, which is very thoughtful and true.....but everyone really, really needs to think of restoring the greenery in our city...i really miss the tress!

Mayank Austen Soofi said...

Apparently there are plans of making a mall out of Khan Market too! That would be the end of all class and elegance. I tell you...

Ajit said...

Hey Supriya, I know Pearl's cri de coeur might make you feel like tearing your hair out in frustration...But I hadn't realised you would take the saying so literally that you already "miss the tress". :-)

constant traveller said...

@ is the right mall contryction pic...dont worry i took it myself.

@ super...dont worry the trees are are existing...i mean delhi is the greenest place in north u remember mumbai...we are better off them so enjoy the greenery!

@ Mayank...What! in Khan Market too!!! wow!

@ Ajit...why would my outcry frustrate super?

Mayank Austen Soofi said...

Pearl, mall in Khan Market: Wow or woe?

Ajit said...

Why would your article frustrate Supriya? Presumably because of the blindness of the powers-that-be?

The fact that Delhi is the greenest city in northern India is not a particularly meaningful statistic in itself. The correct question is to ask how it compares to others - and I don't mean the likes of, say, Kanpur or Patna.

Hyderabad, for instance, has set itself the aim of 30% tree coverage by 2010. I should point out that over the past seven years the figure has risen from a miserable 5% or so to roughly 25% today. 30% is realistic in that light.

OK, you might argue that a state capital, even one on the rise, is not truly comparable to Delhi. If so, stack up apna Indraprastha mahaan to the megapolis against which all other cities are measured today - New York.

New York boasts tree coverage of 24.5% right now. Earlier this year, on Earth Day, Mayor Bloomberg announced a plan to plant one million more trees over the next ten years, raising it to the roughly 30% that cities such as Boston and Atlanta already own.

Delhi, for the record, has a tree coverage of 18-point-something per cent.

It isn't just the cutting down of a few trees you know. That mall is going to leave a gigantic footprint on the infrastructure of the area. It is bound to consume vast amounts of electricity and water, leaving that much less for the unfortunate denizens of Vasant Kunj.

Anonymous said...

It isn't the labourers making the money - imagine the bribes so many of those buggers in the administrative system will make - perhaps for a lifetime - no wonder everyone realises how ugly, useless and damaging these malls are, but then, if you live in Delhi, don't you know someone too whose dad made his millions under the table?

Ajit said...

One picture is worth a thousand yadda, yadda, yadda. In which spirit, click on

L. Venkata Subramaniam said...

I pass that stretch everyday too and my office is just behind the malls built on land that used to be hills and forests.

I think the development is good but they could have let the natural rocks and forest remain and fill the backdrop. It would have been stunning if they had done that. I think we dont have any smart architects around.