The oldest and largest wholesale market in Delhi is waiting for a disaster to happen to get its safety act right. Sadar Bazaar, the wholesale hub of Delhi located between the New Delhi and Old Delhi railway station, is sailing through its toughest phase ever.
The incomplete road construction work undertaken by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has made things difficult for the shopkeepers and customers. The overflowing sewage lines, open manholes and hanging high-tension wires are adding to the woes of shopkeepers.
“MCD has built the road in patches which has made it uneven. We have to jump through a filthy stretch to reach our shops. Monsoon has made things more difficult for us,” said Nakul Arora, a shopkeeper.
High-tension wires, hanging open in the busy market, can spark a big fire any day. “Every year cases of fire are reported from this area. There’s a fire station but due to heavy traffic crossing even half a takes almost an hour. Even a small short-circuit can ignite a big fire,” said Rajendra Mittal, a timber shop owner.
The market, which receives huge footfalls during all seasons, has seen a decline in its business in the past few months.
“I have been here for more than five decades. But the situation has never been so bad. The labourers are falling sick. They are suffering from deadly diseases like dengue and malaria. No authority is bothered about them as they are poor people,” Vinod Jain, a shop owner, said.
The overflowing sewage accumulated outside many shops has affected the business badly. “Our business is suffering huge loss due to these unsanitary conditions. The customers don’t want to step in as the area is too filthy. A couple of months ago MCD started laying a new road. They have left it half done,” said Surinder Singh, a shopkeeper.
Due to water logging and open manholes, the market has also become a breeding ground for various deadly diseases.
“Manholes are open almost everywhere in the market, which can cause serious accidents. In fact, just the other day, an elderly man fell with his face down into the manhole gutter,” said Arora.