NEW DELHI: Ram Balaji, a local book vendor, spends the Sunday in the sweltering heat at the parking area of Delhi Gate metro station since last few weeks. Its noon and he claims to have earned nothing. He wonders if anyone would show up to buy the books he has neatly arranged on the floor of the parking lot.
After the closure of Delhi's famous weekly market in old city Daryaganj for five weeks — first in view of the Republic Day celebrations followed by the ASEAN summit — it reopened in February. Permission was granted by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation to the book vendors to set up their makeshift shops on every Sunday — but only from Golcha Cinema to Delight Cinema — a mere half of the earlier stretch. The civic body did not allow any make-shift shops on the Daryaganj pavement due to which many vendors have been finding it difficult to make the ends meet.
Over 200 book vendors were asked to accommodate themselves in the permitted area, each in 6x4 space. While many adjusted, some didn’t. Balaji is one among those who used to set up their shops outside the Golcha-Delight stretch. “I haven’t earned a rupee since morning. Earlier, when I used to sit at the Golcha-Delight stretch, I earned `4,000 to `5,000 by noon. But no one shows up at this side. Why would they (come here), in this heat?” he says.
To add to our woes, now cloth and footwear vendors among others come set up their shops on the allotted stretch, says Qamar Saeed, president of Daryaganj Patri Sunday Book Bazaar Welfare Association. They (other vendors) move when MCD officials or police make rounds of the area, but return as soon as they leave, Saeed added.
Asha, a 60-year-old widow, has been setting up a shop at the Sunday book market for the past 20 years. Since the order, she has been sharing ‘her’ space with two other booksellers. She maintains it is difficult to work in the confined space. “It is necessary for us to make sure that all books get displayed well. These are not clothes, which when arranged beyond the allowed area, can be lifted up so easily. It takes time to pack them up,” she adds.
According to the vice president of Self-Employment Women Association (SEWA) Latta, requests were made to the NDMC on allotment of licence or identity cards to the book vendors as an assurance that their market won’t be disturbed by any. However, no call on the matter has been taken yet.
A senior officer from the NDMC said that authority is open on issuing licence or an ID card to the book vendors. However, this would be possible after Town Vending Committee is formed.