After being removed from sector 53 in Gurgaon, the Gadia Lohar community that runs the Banjara Market has moved to a new location in sector 70A to set up shops and hutments. More than 400 hutments are currently being built to work as shops and homes for the shopkeepers and their families.
In October last year, the Haryana Shahari Vikas Pradhikaran (HSVP) demolished shanties and shops and removed the community from sector 53, saying that the hutments had come up on government land. However, temporary hutments returned. The HSVP then carried out another demolition exercise in April this year.
The Banjara Market is popular among residents of Delhi-NCR for furniture and home decoration articles at reasonable prices. The community, originally from Chittorgarh in Rajasthan, moved to nearby areas over the past few months after the demolition drive.
Pooja (25), who has now set up shop in sector 70A, claimed the authorities did not notify them before the demolition drive. “A lot of our products and household items were destroyed. The government did not help us after the drive.”
Jitender Kumar, estate officer 2, HSVP, had told The Indian Express earlier that several notices had been sent to the occupants before the demolition drive was carried out.
The HSVP land in the area has been earmarked for the construction of a group housing society, a bus stand and a college.
Sanjeev Singla, estate officer 2, HSVP, said, “The HSVP has got the entire land cleared, which had been encroached by shopkeepers earlier. The site where they have now moved is not under our jurisdiction.”
Now in sector 70A, Pooja said they have been paying a fee to a land owner. She, however, did not know who the land owner was. “We give a fee to the owner to live and sell our items here. We will not be removed and will live here for 20-25 years more,” she added. The families currently reside in shops as hutments and homes are under construction. While many people are unaware of the new location, the shopkeepers said they get a fair number of customers over the weekend.
Government authorities, however, said that even if the land is privately owned, running a market without permission is not allowed.
Sumit Kumar, joint commissioner, zone-3, Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon, under which sector 70A falls, said, “No permission has been granted to shopkeepers regarding running a market in the area. Even if it is on private land, they need requisite clearances from the civic agency. We will look into it and if there is anything illegal or any encroachment, it shall be removed.”
Bachchan, a father of three, meanwhile, said that in the absence of any government assistance, they were trying to set up basic facilities at the new site. “We are building these homes ourselves. The government did not help. We are building shops, homes and toilets all on our own in this area,” he said.