Holes before fix: Mega revamp for Delhi's markets

It is an initiative aimed at boosting the economy and creating more jobs, attracting tourists from world over.
Overhead wires are commonplace in key markets of Delhi.
Overhead wires are commonplace in key markets of Delhi.

From non-existent or often found locked public toilets, haphazard parking, broken roads, webs of overhead cables, traffic snarls, overflowing sewers, waterlogging, lack of green and open spaces or a place to find shade, the city’s oldest, busiest and most crowded marketplaces — Khari Baoli, Lajpat Nagar, Sarojini Nagar, Kamla Nagar and Kirti Nagar — are up for a revamp as “world-class” shopping areas. The makeover of the markets will be done under the first phase of the Delhi government’s projects for the redevelopment of market zones. It is an initiative aimed at boosting the economy and creating more jobs, attracting tourists from the world over.

It was one of the major announcements made by the Arvind Kejriwal-led city government during this year’s budget themed as “Rozgaar Budget”. Visits to all these markets reveal what are the infrastructure issues that need to be fixed.

Khari Baoli
Khari Baoli in the Walled City is one of the oldest and the largest spice markets in Asia. Dating back to the Mughal Era, almost every shop here has nestled history in its own way. The names of the shop are still read out in the same old way, for instance “15 Chawal Wala”. The entire marker area is seen dotted by loaders and pushcarts amid narrow lanes and webs of overhead cables. The noise and traffic snarls have permanent presence here. Besides, parking e-rickshaws and hand carts on the road adds to the traffic movement, which is one of the major issues that need to be addressed, say traders.

Hemant Gupta, general secretary, Delhi Vegetable Oil Traders Association, says the main criteria to choose Khari Baoli as one of the markets for redevelopment is that it is a historical market. “The footfall is high and it attracts more women customers. But, the redevelopment work should be done in a phased manner, so that the general public and shopkeepers don’t get affected,” says Gupta. Tarun Gupta, a trader, says that there is no parking facility in the market and those who run e-rickshaws and hand carts are parking it anywhere, which leads to traffic congestion.

Pradeep Gupta, president, Chemical Merchant Association, says, “We have suggested the idea of monitoring and regulating the number of e-rickshaws and hand carts to Delhi Government and hope that it will solve the traffic issues in the market.”

Sarojni Nagar
Sarojni Nagar

Lajpat Nagar
Known for wedding shopping, women’s clothing, auto parts and accessories, the crowded Lajpat Nagar market has been battling parking issues and traffic snarls for decades. Besides, it doesn’t have functional or clean women’s public toilet facilities. It is one of the major concerns raised by traders who say that it majorly affects their customers as well as staff, mostly women. “I have been working here for the last 18 years and while some things have become better, the public toilets are miserable and we don’t feel like using them. It has always been like that,” said Anjana Singh, a saleswoman at a clothing shop in the area while talking to The Morning Standard. It is a perennial problem but nobody talks about it, she added.

Most of the women have to go to restaurants to relieve themselves but it proves quite troublesome, as they have to walk a long way and cross over heavy traffic. The Morning Standard visited one of the women’s loos and men’s toilets. While the women’s loo was badly kept, the men’s public toilet did not even have a door and the area around it emanated a filthy smell. There was water all over the floor inside the women’s loo and it was poorly lit.

“We are very disturbed because of this loo right outside our shop. The stench fills up the entire area here. The customers start feeling uneasy soon after they enter our shop,” said Sanjay Baghai, owner of SN traders, a clothing shop. There are many other woes that the traders are suffering from. During the rainy season, the area gets flooded and there is no route for water to recede, said Baghai, who has been running his shop since the 1960s. “We want that these basic things should be sorted out first and only then we can make the market of an international standard,” he added.

According to 65-year-old Triza, a shopper at the market, parking is a huge issue. “My daughter had to park the car at least a kilometre away and now we will have to walk. It’s a task to walk with all the stuff and the crowd and heat adds to the misery,” she said. Another major challenge in the market is the poor state of the security. While the Delhi Police had installed barricades, the metal detectors at the door were not working. This is despite the fact that market has been the target of terror attacks in the past. “The security needs to be ramped up in the area. On an everyday basis, around 10,000 people visit the market. The visitors are almost double this number on weekends,” said Sandeep Kohli, owner of a garment shop. “There is no checking of bags or people and even the metal detetors at the gates never work. It’s a major threat to the security of the area,” he added.

Sarojini Nagar
One of most popular markets among the youth, located in the plush locality of Sarojini Nagar in South Delhi, the market is known for its cheap prices and an infinite variety of clothes and accessories. Considered to be the fashion and bargain hunters’ paradise, it sees a heavy footfall even on a regular day. The market is full of squatters and vendors, which makes it difficult to walk through.

Overcrowding, unauthorised stalls in the walking path, hawkers roaming around the market struggling to sell their goods, unorganised shops on the footpath, clothes hanging on the walls, mismanaged lanes with no signages, rampant encroachment, poorly designed entry and exit points and major traffic issues have been plaguing the market.

In a bid to address these, the market was selected among the first five markets to be redeveloped in Phase I by the Delhi Government. Meanwhile, traders have a mixed opinion over the redevelopment plan. Some believe that it will add glory to the market while some are of the opinion that most traders who don’t have proper shops might lose their jobs yet again.

Vikas Ahuja who runs a hand bags shop said, “This project will give a new shape to our market which is our second home. We expect the government to work on a couple of things like all the lanes and turns in the markets should be named or be given some identification so that customers can find their way. Another is providing washrooms for which customers have to walk long distance.” Another trader Saurabh Chaturvedi who runs a saree store said that the government needs to work on removing illegal hawkers. “Either these hawkers should be given a designated zone in the market or they should be completely banned,” he said.

Karan, one of the hawkers selling junk jewellery, said, “I think once the redevelopment project will begin, the government will remove us. They already restrict us from standing here. Where are we going to go? We don’t want to lose our job, which runs our houses, because of this new project.” Most vendors said that they feared being ousted once the project would start. However, the government has not mentioned anything so far within the redevelopment plan of the market.

The customers, meanwhile, who were not aware of the government’s project, were elated. “It will be a great step if this market becomes more organised,” said Priya Kapil, a customer. Ruchi Sharma, another customer, said, “I believe the government should work on crowd management in the market so people can easily walk here. Also, it is a hassle to look for washrooms in this market.”

Kamla Nagar
The market located next to the North Campus of Delhi University and known to be a popular hangout spot for college-goers is one of the oldest and busiest street shopping places in the city. Traffic snarls, double-parking and overflowing sewers, in particular during the monsoon, are some of the major issues that have been plaguing the area for over a decade. Over the years, with the population influx, the number of eateries and shopping outlets, which in the early 70s- 80s housed shops on the ground floor while houses on the second and third floors, has multiplied. However, the civic amenities did not keep pace with time. Selected as one of the five major markets for revamp, traders and owners of eating houses are an excited lot. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had visited the market last week to speak to traders and common people about the redevelopment plan and issues which needs to be focused on.

“Kamla Nagar market will soon be known as the pride of Delhi, which will give a unique experience to traders and shoppers. It will attract tourists and will also boost business and employment opportunities here,” Sisodia had said. Nitin Gupta, president, Kamla Nagar Traders Association, said that they had sent 15 suggestions to Delhi government for redevelopment of the area and many of them got approved. “These include installation of CCTVs and LED lights, construction of modern toilets, security gates, underground wiring among others,” said Gupta.

Encroachment on roads by street vendors and illegal parking is a major traffic issue in the area, he added. “The road between Malka Ganj and Barfkhana is broken and illegal parking adds to the slow traffic movement. This redevelopment work is the need of the hour here,” said Vinod Kumar, a local.
Sumit Grover, who runs a footwear shop, said that overflowing sewers are a major menace during the rains. The sewerage infrastructure, which was laid to cater to a small number of houses and shops, has become outdated, as a large number of eateries have opened up over the past years thus increasing the load on the sewer network. “Last year, rain water entered my shop and damaged the goods”.

Kirti Nagar
Located in West Delhi, it is one of the biggest and most popular furniture markets in Asia. Barely a kilometre away from Kirti Nagar Metro Station, an entire area of the market is dedicated for furniture shops where people can find their kind or get one made as they like. This is one of Asia’ biggest and most popular markets, yet it does not have a single allotted parking space. Vehicles are parked haphazardly causing traffic jams and many a times even scuffles over the same.

Satish Gaur, general secretary, Furniture Block Market Association, said that the footfall over the weekend is the most and due to unavailability of parking space, vehicles pile up and hinder traffic movement. Terming the redevelopment plan as a “booster dose”, he said that the plan will be a milestone step to infuse a new life in the market.

The encroachment of the market roads by goods delivery vehicles is a major concern. Locals said that incidents of snatching have become a menace and especially women are being targeted. “Those who can afford to have CCTV cameras get it installed outside their shops, but the government should take steps to install CCTVs. Street lights don’t work often, which makes it unsafe for women to move around,” said Manoj Gaur, a trader.

Redevelopment Scheme Under ‘Rozgar Budget’

Selection of markets by the Delhi government — for revamp in terms of infrastructure:

To select the five markets for redevelopment in the 1st Phase, a stakeholder consultation was carried out by Deputy CM Manish Sisodia on April 21 in which over 100 representatives from 50 market associations participated.

jobs are likely to be created by Delhi Govt via revamp of five major markets

Retail markets of Delhi were invited to fill a form to participate in the selection process. They were asked to submit details on issues being faced by their market and to seek their interest in the redevelopment scheme. Markets were asked to apply within 15 days (till May 6).

In all, 49 associations from 33 markets submitted applications. An eight-member selection committee was formed involving representatives from Tourism Department, Delhi Jal Board, PWD, School of Planning and Architecture and Trade bodies.

The committee first shortlisted nine markets based on various parameters, including brand value of the market, footfall, need and ease of intervention, interest of the market associations, etc. It then physically assessed markets to understand the ground realities.

Brijesh Goel, one of the members of the market selection committee (redevelopment work), said that all civic departments will work together for the redevelopment of the market. “Special spots will be marked for selfies, which will attract the youth,” he said.

As the Delhi Government plans to conduct an ambitious ‘world-class’ makeover of five major markets, traders, workers and customers complain of prevailing issues like lack of public toilets, excessive traffic and little parking spaces, among many others, report Ifrah Mufti, Ankita Upadhyay & Zaid Nayeemi

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