If you thought that the Delhi Book Fair would be as organised as any book—beginning from page 1 and going to page 100 in proper sequence—you have another thought coming.
On Saturday, the day the fair opened, chaos ruled, much like torn pages from a book strewn here and there. Most visitors were a harried lot, thanks to the absence of any signages on the roads leading to the exhibition halls at Pragati Maidan.
In fact, such was the chaos that many of the halls housing the exhibition did not have any number sign on top. Visitors were seen asking each other, queuing up at information centres and crowding private security guards outside the exhibition halls for information.
What compounded the problem was the fact that the exhibition halls were scattered far and wide from each other, showing an absolute lack of planning.
“I have been looking for hall number 7 for the last 20 minutes. There are no signages on the road and the staff at information centers are of no help,” said an irritated Raman Verma, a teacher who had come to the fair from Janak Puri with his wife and 7- year-old daughter.
Nidhi Sharma, 24, a Noida based software engineer had a similar tale of woes to narrate. “It took me almost half an hour to locate the stall I wanted to visit. There should be an exclusive guide map every year for the book fair,” she says.
A number of visitors also complained of facing difficulty in getting tickets for the fair. “I had to run from one gate to another to find a ticket counter. I have been visiting the book fair every time, but things have never been so chaotic. At least you could get tickets at every counter,” said Purnima Sinha, a homemaker, who was at the fair with her 12-year- old son.
“In fact, I saw many people entering the fair from gate number 7 without the ticket, and no one stopped them” she adds.
When asked about the chaos, Safdar Khan, Senior General Manager, ITPO (India Trade Promotion Organization), said, “As far as we know all the halls have numbers. We will ask the NBT to put up signages to the halls. We will try to resolve all these problems by tomorrow.”
On their part, the exhibitors believe that both ITPO and NBT need to learn a lot from the book fairs abroad.
“There is a need for a lot of improvement in terms of infrastructure and layout planning. It should be more visitor-friendly,” says Kapish Mehra, publisher, Rupa and Company.