They had thought that opening up a restaurant in the heart of Delhi — Connaught Place — would bring them lucrative business. But, barely a year after opening an outlet, they found themselves packing their bags and heading back to their home country, Holland.
In a bid to expand their hotel business in India, Satish Roopram, in September 2010, had opened up a restaurant in F block, Connuaght Place.
Soon, however, digging work began on the radial roads, and their business was severely hit. The huge losses forced them to shut down their restaurant in October this year.
"We have outlets all over the world — seven restaurants in South America, one in West Indies, two in the Netherlands. We opened our 10th restaurant in CP last year, but our dream was shattered. The construction work resulted in crores of losses to us. We have been paying heavy rent (Rs 8 lakh per month) and with the radial roads dug up, the entry to our restaurant became inaccessible. We had no option but to shut it down," said Satish Roopram, owner of Roopram Roti restaurant.
This is not an isolated case. Other traders are also facing losses due to the construction work that has been going on for the past one-and-a-half-year. Many are planning on closing down their businesses. In addition to Roopram Roti, two other restaurants — Wimpy and Piccadelhi — also shut down this year.
Erratic water and power supply, dug up roads and pavements, and disrupted internet lines are also making it difficult for traders to do business. Some traders have shut down operations temporarily till the construction is over.
"Digging of the radial roads is affecting our daily business. Our sales are down by 50% and if construction work isn't finished in the next three months, we will be forced to close our establishment. The rents are high and sales very low," said a spokesperson of Pollo Compero, a South American food joint.
The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), which is carrying out the restoration work, says it will discuss the matter with the New Delhi Traders Association (NDTA).
"NDMC is making efforts to reduce the inconvenience to traders, and if there is any specific issue it can be given special attention," said Amit Prasad, NDMC spokesperson.
NDTA said that the civic agency had given them a deadline till the Commonwealth Games, but work is yet to be finished. "Traders have been suffering for some time now, but gave their cooperative for the Commonwealth Games," said Atul Bhargava, president, NDTA.
Small-scale shops too are feeling the pinch and are planning to shut down operations.
"The pavements are broken because of which very few people come to the shops. This has been the case for a long time now. We don't know what to do because we have to support our families, pay the rent and cope with inflation. If the situation persists, we might just have to shut shop," said Raj Kumar, who runs a grocery shop in K block.