Vendors at the Darya Ganj Sunday Book Bazaar set up their stalls on the footpath in front of the North Corporation’s (NDMC) Mahila Haat around 2 pm, only to be vacated from the spot two hours later by civic officials. Amid the pandemic, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority has allowed vendors to set up stalls between 4 pm and 10 pm inside Mahila Haat.
Many vendors said the new timings are inconvenient for them. Qamar Saeed, president of the Darya Ganj Patri Sunday Book Bazaar Welfare Association, said, “We have written to various authorities requesting that they allow us to set up the bazaar from 6 am to 6 pm, as those are the most suitable timings for us.”
Last year, the market was evicted from the footpaths of Asaf Ali Road by the North MCD as the area was declared a non-hawking zone. After an agreement with the civic body, it was shifted to Mahila Haat across the road for a fixed rent.
Radhe Shyam (50), a vendor who comes from Noida, said, “It has been difficult for the past few months as the number of customers has been low. These timings do not make sense as most people do not come at night.” Earning Rs 500-600 on Sunday, he said he requires around that much money to take the books back.
Another vendor Arun Kumar Pandey (24) said, “There has hardly been any crowd… We used to earn in thousands per day before the lockdown – now we make only around Rs 2,000.” Sharada Prasad (51) added, “These timings have slashed business. That’s why we put up stalls on the streets.”
The NDMC said the vendors resisted from going inside the Haat when it was opened around 3.30 pm, saying they wanted better timings. “A tussle of sorts ensued, and the vendors had to be removed from the streets as they are not authorised to set up the market there,” said an official.
The official said the request for the change in timings is under consideration. “Right now, all weekly markets have the fixed timing of 4 pm-10 pm only,” he said.
Vendor Saeed said the lockdown has been harsh and they shouldn’t be harassed for trying to earn their livelihood: “We have so many bills to pay… We have tried telling authorities to allow inside by 2.30 pm-3 pm as setting up our stalls takes time. Moreover, students – many of them women – do not like to come to Darya Ganj at night.”
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