The Darya Ganj book bazaar, which had been shut since early July, opened to the public Sunday at its new address in Mahila Haat near Delhi Gate, amid protests by several book vendors against their eviction from the old spot.
On July 3, the Delhi High Court had ordered the market to be shut, saying that no weekly market would be allowed on Sundays at Netaji Subhash (NS) Marg near Jama Masjid. The order came after Delhi Traffic Police submitted its report and proposed closing NS Marg, citing increasing traffic throughout the day. The North MCD was then ordered to shut all markets in the area.
According to North MCD commissioner Varsha Joshi, 139 book vendors set up stalls at the new site. When The Indian Express visited the market, it found only around 30 shops. As per the terms of the contract, the MCD-owned Mahila Haat will be leased out to the vendors every Sunday for two years, at a rent of Rs 200 per day. It will be renewed after two years.
The protesters, who formed a human chain at Asaf Ali Road, however, want the area on the road between Golcha Cinema and Delite Cinema to be designated as the vending zone.
Rajesh Kumar (31), a vendor, said, “We want Asaf Ali Road for our bazaar. The president of our association made deals for Mahila Haat without asking all of us.”
As per the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014, vendors can only be evicted after a proper process. Mohit (29), a member of the National Hawker Federation, said, “They did not conduct surveys or give registration certificates… instead, they simply threw people out…”
Vendors also claimed the Sunday Book Bazaar Welfare Association, which represented them, was disbanded September 1, leaving questions hanging on the negotiations done after, including choosing the new space.
Joshi denied charges of procedures being ignored: “Anyone who thinks they were left out can approach the DC of City SP Zone.”
Meanwhile, around 30 vendors who set up stalls voiced their support for the new site. Former vice-president of the Sunday Book Bazaar Welfare Association Asarfilal Verma said, “For two months, we haven’t had any money, we need to eat. For the first time in 40 years, we have got registration and ID. We worked really hard to get this site…”
Mohammad Abid (35) said, “I like it here. There is place to sit, for people to roam around, there is parking and bathrooms.”
Many students who frequented the bazaar in the past supported the protesting vendors. Deepshika Sinha (28), a graduate of Urban Design from the School of Planning and Architecture, said, “Minor design changes could have been made on the footpaths or streets to make traffic lesser. Removing the market was not required.”
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