The monsoons arrival has made shopkeepers in Defence Colony Market jittery because the tardy progress of renovation work on pavements,a new drainage system and the installation of a CCTV camera network have turned the area into a mess of ditches,open drains and debris.
Thursdays downpour made matters worse as rainwater filled the ditches and construction debris made the area slushy.
The 25 establishments on the 104-metre stretch from Komal Florists to a Barista outlet are the worst-affected. A wide trench has been dug here to build a drain.
We could not open our shops for two days when work began a week ago as there was no way anybody could have crossed the ditch to reach our stores, Inderjit Singh of Quick Electronics said.
Finally,we brought wood planks on a rent of Rs 50 a day to cover the ditch. Business has dropped by 50 per cent. I dont think they can finish the work in the next two weeks, he said.
Down the road,Sagar Restaurants manager Keshav Bajpee fretted over the dwindling number of customers at lunchtime. Business is down. The renovation work outside is progressing rather too slowly. Who will walk on mud to eat here? he said.
The private contractor,K Construction Co, hired by the South Municipal Corporation to work on the footpaths and drains. Work began on March 3,with a deadline of four months,but even half of it has not been completed. Shopkeepers said the project cost of nearly Rs 51 lakh would overshoot because of the slow progress of work.
South Corporation spokesperson Yogender Mann said work was being carried out in phases. We will not dig up the entire market at one go. There is no date for completion as such. It will happen in a phased manner to minimise inconvenience, he said.
Rajinder Malik,president of the Defence Colony Market Traders Association,said the quality of work was suspect. We had asked the corporation to build six-foot wide pavements. But they are building five-foot wide pavements now. They have stopped work after the rains arrived,leaving debris on the road and in the parking lot, he said.
A construction supervisor said,We cannot work in the rain,but we will finish in a week, he said.
Adding to the chaos are wide,uncovered holes for installling 29 poles for 48 CCTV cameras,which will monitor the market area. The Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) is executing the project for the Delhi Traffic Police. There is no word on when the work will finish, a shopkeeper said.
ECILs area manager Anil Kumar admitted that the progress of work wasnt up to the mark. We have finished 50 per cent of the work. We have to finish it by September-end, he said.