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Bhendi Bazaar’s redevelopment reflects Mumbai’s urban transformation

In recent years, urban redevelopment has become an important aspect of revitalizing historic and congested areas in major Indian cities. Governments across the country are focusing on urban planning and smart city development. To address challenges associated with India’s rapid population growth and massive urbanization, the central government had launched the Smart Cities Mission in 2015 to promote a sustainable and inclusive environment with a better quality of life.

Bhendi Bazaar and Chandni Chowk are undergoing redevelopment

Currently, Bhendi Bazaar in Mumbai and Chandni Chowk in Delhi are in focus. Both have historic significance and remain important hubs for commerce and culture. Undergoing redevelopment currently, these tourist hotspots will soon have better infrastructure, and business-friendly marketplaces with a nuance of culture and history embedded in them. Geographically apart, these projects possess striking similarities in their goals, challenges, and potential outcomes.

Bhendi Bazaar, established in the 18th century, served as a key trading hub for the Bohra community. A maze-like network of tiny passageways brimming with street food sellers, textile stores, and spice dealers, while Chandni Chowk, dating back to the Mughal era, was the imperial capital’s bustling commercial center. Surrounded by havelis and homes to famous attractions like Jama Masjid, it remains a marvel of the Mughal architecture.

Sharing similar aims and objectives

The arched-out redevelopment plans for both localities share similar aims and objectives. Speaking of their historical significance, both localities are steeped in history and cultural heritage. While Bhendi Bazaar is known for its vibrant atmosphere and historic structures, Chandni Chowk situated in old Delhi, boasts a rich history dating back to the Mughal era with narrow lanes, bustling markets shaping its identity. The redevelopment goals hold a resemblance too, as both markets will be given a modern upgrade with improved living conditions, promoting economic growth in these densely populated areas. The core goal remains to be a township with sustainable, well-planned space that blends the contemporary and history seamlessly.

Redevelopment includes widening roads, introducing modern utilities and creating pedestrian-friendly zones

Community involvement has also been a crucial aspect of both redevelopment projects. The residents and local businesses play a vital role in shaping the vision for the future. To ensure that the redevelopment plans align with the needs and aspirations of the community, fostering a sense of ownership among stakeholders. Another shared challenge is the narrow, congested lanes and outdated utilities in both areas pose obstacles to smooth traffic, sanitation, and overall accessibility. The redevelopment plans include widening roads, introducing modern utilities, and creating pedestrian-friendly zones to address these issues. Bhendi Bazaar has already transformed, getting 18-meter-wide roads as opposed to the 9-meter-wide roads that existed before.

Displacement and relocation of residents

The redevelopment projects necessitate the relocation of residents and businesses to facilitate construction activities. The Bhendi Bazaar Redevelopment project initiated by a public charitable organization Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust (SBUT) has taken a more open and participatory approach. Keeping residents and shopkeepers in mind, understanding their needs and concerns, ensuring the redevelopment caters to the well-being of the community. The Delhi government’s Chandni Chowk project has chosen a more centralized approach, raising concerns about displacement and restoration.

As a result of the undergoing redevelopment, the revitalization of Bhendi Bazaar and Chandni Chowk is expected to have a positive economic impact. By attracting investments, creating commercial space, and improving overall infrastructure, these projects aim to boost local businesses, create job opportunities, and contribute to the economic growth of the regions.

Sustainability is the key

Additionally, both redevelopment projects aim to keep sustainability in mind by incorporating energy-efficient lighting, waste management systems, and rainwater harvesting. While Chandni Chowk’s plan includes solar panels and tree-lined avenues to reduce the carbon footprint, Bhendi Bazaar’s redevelopment focuses on green space and minimizing construction waste. These measures are essential for ensuring the long-term viability of these urban centers.

Balance between modernisation and preservation

Looking at the future, the successful renovation of Bhendi Bazaar and Chandni Chowk will be dependent on striking a balance between modernization and preservation. These initiatives have the potential to not only revitalize these ancient marketplaces but also create a pattern for sensitive urban redevelopment across India by prioritizing community involvement, combining ecological methods, and guaranteeing economic inclusiveness. Both these projects stand strong and have become inspiring examples of how urban transformation can balance modernization with heritage preservation for the betterment of people.