They had been eagerly waiting for the annual January sale season to turn things around, but for the shopkeepers of Connaught Place it is going to be yet another year of bad business.
Suffering huge losses for the last two years, thanks to massive digging before the Commonwealth Games last year, this year too assures no respite. The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) is starting restoration work in CP from Tuesday.
This means shops in Inner, Outer, Middle circles and those on radial roads that connect Outer to Middle Circle and Middle Circle to Inner Circle will turn inaccessible once again.
Unhappy with the NDMC plan, the New Delhi Traders' Association (NDTA) is planning a meeting with the civic agency on Tuesday.
"How can they re-start work without consulting us? We have suffered huge losses in the past and were hoping to recover it during the sales period, which will commence shortly this month. All the traders are going to oppose the plan. We wrote to NDMC on December 8 asking for the complete plan but they never did," said Atul Bhargava, president of the traders' body.
What's worse is that even the radial roads will be dug up and made inaccessible. The biggest loss will be suffered by the 120 odd shops on these roads. "Radial roads are the entry points to CP. If they cordon them off how are the people going to enter? They should take up one thing at a time," added Bhargava.
Before the Commonwealth Games, as the restoration work was underway in CP shoppers had virtually no room left to walk. This time around no one will be allowed to park their vehicles in Middle Circle. In addition, as digging work starts once again, phone lines will be disconnected just like last year. This means no transaction through plastic money.
According to the traders, in the last 15 months while CP restoration work was underway, from generating a revenue of R 1,308.75 crore for a period of 15 months prior to restoration works, the revenue came down to R624.75 crore during the restoration period, a huge difference of R684 crore.
"Till the construction is on the NDMC should collect tax at the earlier rates," said Satish Bansal, a cloth merchant.