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.]