Redone Dilli Haat looks to keep pace with malls | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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Redone Dilli Haat looks to keep pace with malls

ByAlok KN Mishra
Apr 26, 2023 11:27 PM IST

Considered one of the most important cultural points of the city, Dilli Haat, spread over 6 acres, was inaugurated in March 1994 and has been a popular shopping destination for handicraft and handloom products

Dilli Haat, the Capital’s open-air crafts bazaar near south Delhi’s INA, is undergoing a makeover, with the tourism department renovating the popular tourist destination in south Delhi as part of a wider beautification project being undertaken across the city for the upcoming G20 summit in September.

Shoppers at a Dilli Haat INA. (Sanjeev Verma/HT Photo)
Shoppers at a Dilli Haat INA. (Sanjeev Verma/HT Photo)

However, shoppers and experts alike have expressed reservations on whether the new renovations fit into the concepts behind which the market is based —not as a city marketplace, but as a showpiece of traditional Indian culture, a space where an urban clientele can experience folk art and crafts.

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Considered one of the most important cultural points of the city, Dilli Haat, spread over 6 acres, was inaugurated in March 1994 and has been a popular shopping destination for handicraft and handloom products, and is a hub of food items from across the country. Boasting of a daily footfall of 2,000-6,000 people, the market was designed by the Union ministry of textiles, the state tourism department and the New Delhi Municipal Corporation to sustain and preserve the India’s heritage.

As part of the market’s renovation, the stone pillars at the entrance of Dilli Haat have been painted, the bricks on the floor have been replaced with red sandstone, the slate tiles in front of the pucca shops have been replaced with tin sheets, and the bamboo thatched roofs above kiosks have been replaced with bamboo ply sheets.The lighting of the market has been changed to ensure less power consumption, officials said.

The areas of the market that have been most transformed are the food plazas, with swanky new wooden or metal tables and chairs (as opposed to the ad-hoc plastic furniture used earlier) and permanent roofs — the areas used to earlier be open to the elements. Other works, including the renovation of the toilets, are still ongoing, and the refurbishment of Dilli Haat is expected to be completed by the end of June, a tourism department official said.

During a visit on Wednesday, HT found that the perimeter wall of the market has been repainted, and new concertina wires have been installed. 40 new high-resolution CCTV cameras have replaced the old cameras in the market to improve safety.

Sukriti Malhotra, an MBA student, said, “The market is looking cleaner than before, but the food plazas look more like the food courts of a mall. Some aspects of rural life should have been added to them.”

Her friend Janvi, who declined to share her surname, noted that the seating arrangements at the food plazas are much better. “The market has also been made wheelchair-friendly,” she said.

Former Samata Party leader Jaya Jaitly, a founding member of Dilli Haat, said, “Turning food stalls marble and stone food courts like every mall in sight will destroy the gentle Indian aesthetic of the Dilli Haat. Dilli Haat’s attraction has been its homely but beautiful atmosphere that had a special mood. The tourism department does not maintain the stalls properly and now they are heading towards ruining what was unique about it. And there seems to be no authority that cares.”

Rakesh Kumar, who runs a souvenir kiosk in the market, said the new flooring has made the entire area look cleaner, and would be easier to clean after rains.

A second tourism department official said the changes were done according to the market’s needs. “Earlier, the seating capacity at the food plazas was limited, but the revamp has led to a significant increase in the seating capacity. Earlier, during unfavourable weather conditions, customers would be affected. Now that a roof has been added, visitors can enjoy their meals even in unfavourable weather,” said the official.

Another official said, “The market is maintained by Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation (DTTDC), an undertaking of the Delhi government, and renovation does not require any additional approval from other authorities. The renovation work is being done by DTTDC.”

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