Pragati Maidan is bursting at the seams as the 26th India International Trade Fair unwinds.
Quite evidently, the 150 acre campus is turning out to be too cramped, especially for hundreds of small vendors.
It’s a fair outside a fair in many ways. Vendors sell cigarettes, paan masala, deep fried snacks, soft toys, balloons, mouth organs, gol gappas, and other knick knacks as they try to woo the hordes that make their way to the metro station.
They have set up shops right outside the gates closest to the Pragati Maidan metro station.
And, as with the fair inside, pushing your way through the crowds that gather around these stalls is quite a task.
“I’ve been here since the second day of the trade fair,” said Raj Kumar (37), who stands outside the Maidan gates selling cigarettes and cold drinks.
“This is a very good location because there are so many people here. And ever since the event has been open to the public, my profits have more than doubled,” he said.
Since smoking is banned inside the fair premises, “cigarettes are in huge demand outside,” he said.
“It’s a good place to grab a quick bite for cheap prices,” said 18-year-old Anuradha Bhalla who had come to the fair with a group of college friends.
“The trade fair has plenty of places to eat, but even a simple bhelpuri costs Rs 30 inside. Here I can have it for just Rs. 10!”
The heavy flow of visitors and the proximity to the entrance of the metro station does cause problems once in a while, but security officials say they are helpless about the situation.
“Even if we make these vendors go away, they always come back the next day,” said a security official outside the Maidan gates. “Besides, we are too busy managing the crowds entering and leaving the fair grounds to look at these things.”
Evidently, they are, because no one seems to be taking any notice of the huge mounds of discarded polythene bags, paper cups, disposable plates and cigarette stubs that line the pavements around.