On Sunday afternoon, students, parents with children and book lovers milled around the open space of Mahila Haat in Delhi Gate as the relocated Darya Ganj Sunday book market has begun to find its feet again.
Right outside the walled premises of Mahila Haat — owned by the North MCD and leased out to book vendors to set up their famed shops on Sundays — were flex posters announcing the market’s new location.
The market opened up last Sunday after being shut for nine weeks following a Delhi High Court order that no weekly market be allowed at Netaji Subhash Marg due to traffic problems.
“Business is much better today than it was last Sunday…there are almost thrice the number of customers today. It was only a matter of people getting to know about the market’s new location. We put together our association’s money and printed 12 large posters, which we have put up around Delhi Gate and the Metro station area. We also distributed 2,000 pamphlets this morning,” said Rajendra Singh, former secretary of the Sunday Book Bazaar Welfare Association.
This gradual recovery is taking place even as a section of vendors continue to oppose the location and want the market to operate on the stretch between Golcha Cinema and Delite Cinema.
Last week, when The Indian Express had visited the market, it found that only around 30 vendors had set up shop. This week, over a hundred vendors had laid out their wares.
“Around 276 vendors would set up shop at the old location. Today, there are around 170. The customers are also more. It will take time to get as many customers as we had before,” said Qamar Sayeed, president of the book bazaar association.
The space is open and uncluttered, and the vendors lay out their books at designated spots on a polished stone floor. Also enclosed in the space is a small park and raised platforms for visitors to sit.
“The space is good — it is clean, we have a toilet, there is a garden. It looks like a proper book fair. Customers and sellers are protected from traffic, and pick-pockets and roadside scuffles of the street-market,” said Sayeed.
However, the space is limited, he added. “Here, each seller has only a 6×4 feet space… earlier, space was more flexible,” he said. Rakesh Kumar, another vendor, said the open nature of the space has left them and the books vulnerable to the harsh sun and rain.
Most visitors The Indian Express spoke to had found out about the relocation through social media. S K Singh, who was at the market, said the new space is easier for customers: “The place is not chaotic. We can go through the books in peace.”