By: Ajay Kumar Mishra & Pooja Choksi
Even as the city was caught up in Eid celebrations on Tuesday, the future of shopkeepers at Bhadra in the old city looked bleak as their sales plummeted owing to the ambitious Bhadra Plaza Development Project (BPDP) being constructed in the vicinity of their shops.
Shopkeepers claimed that their sales declined by more than 50 per cent in the holy month of Ramzan, owing to the construction of the Bhadra Revitalization Project flagged off by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation in January 2012 with investment of more than Rs 100 crore.
The project, aimed at reviving the Bhadra city square as it was in the Muhammedan era, into a walking zone and centre for leisure activities, blocks the whole Teen Darwaja area thereby obstructing shoppers. It includes development of the public plaza and a pedestrian space from Bhadra Fort to Teen Darwaja, restoration of the fort, development of the Azamkhan Sarai area, a pedestrian bridge connecting Bhadra fort to the Sabarmati riverfront, multilevel parking facility at Lal Darwaja among other features.
Kishorebhai Modi (61) whose family has been doing business in the area for more than 110 years and runs a hosiery shop says, “This year we have managed just about 30 per cent of sale because of inflation, rains and the biggest hurdle for us, which is the Bhadra Project. While the project has blocked almost the entire market area, lack of parking space for customers has acted as another deterrent. With the roads jammed by the project, we also find it difficult to fetch goods as we have to walk a long way to get to our shops now.”
Shopkeepers at Teen Darwaja echoed a similar sentiment. Kala stores owner ‘Harshad Gandhi (56) said, “My ancestral shop has been here for more than 60 years, but this Eid, our sale is 60 per cent lesser than last year. We are left with only 40 per cent customer base owing to the construction activities.”
With inflation and rains playing spoilsport, traders like Mukeshbhai Gandhi(58), the owner of Murlidhar Dresses for 40 years, Altaf M Rangrez(39) owner of Atul selection for 40 years are also looking at weak sales.