Govt plans to overhaul Delhi’s ageing markets
The revamp, according to officials, will include ground-up facelifts, infrastructural reforms and the installation of basic amenities to improve accessibility
The Delhi government on Wednesday unveiled a slew of measures to revamp the Capital’s ageing markets, improve customer footfalls and boost incomes for traders, outlining the details of a plan that was conceptualised last year and has now been set in motion after a high-level meeting chaired by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.
As part of the plan, five of Delhi’s biggest shopping centres — in Kamla Nagar, Khari Baoli, Lajpat Nagar, Sarojini Nagar and Kirti Nagar — will go under the knife, the Gandhi Nagar wholesale garment market will be upgraded, and the state government will launch its own online marketplace, with at least 100,000 traders on board, said officials familiar with the matter.
“The five retail hubs will be redeveloped and beautified as per their specific requirements, ensuring that they remain true to their local essence while embracing a modern outlook,” Kejriwal said in a statement after the review meeting, which was also attended by state industries minister Saurabh Bharadwaj and other senior government officials.
The revamp, according to officials, will include ground-up facelifts, infrastructural reforms and the installation of basic amenities to improve accessibility.
During the meeting, Kejriwal asked officials to kick work off on all the projects within the next few weeks.
The plans were all originally announced on June 21last year, as a key arm of the state government’s 2022 Rozgaar Budget, which was aimed at shoring up employment in the Capital, largely by reforming markets and improving the interface between buyers and sellers.
However, these ideas failed to lift off because of procedural delays and a lack of coordination between the state government and the previous MCD, which was run by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Stakeholders welcomed the revamp plan.
Ashok Kalra, general secretary of Sarojini Nagar market association said, “The redevelopment plan is a good idea and needs to now be implemented soon. We will be supporting the authorities with the plan.”
Most markets in the national capital are decades old, in desperate need of attention. These complexes balance crumbling infrastructure, bare amenities and few safety systems, even as they accommodate hundreds of traders and several thousand customers, all jostling for space.
Each of the five markets, Kejriwal said, will be branded and marketed with “unique” themes and identities.
For instance, Kamla Nagar will be redeveloped as a “youth hangout zone”, said officials. Khari Baoli’s revamp will reflect its Mughal origins, Lajpat Nagar will be marketed as both a high-end street fashion as well as wedding shopping destination, and Sarojini Nagar, officials said, will be redeveloped as a fast fashion market. Kirti Nagar will be redeveloped as a one-stop-shop for furniture, furnishings and home decor.
Kejriwal said final redesigns of the markets will be determined through a competition, in which renowned architects from India and abroad are expected to participate.
“The project is set to revamp infrastructure, improve accessibility, and upgrade amenities, all aimed at creating an environment that fosters growth and economic prosperity,” said a Delhi government official.
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) will coordinate the plan among various agencies. Authorities will also ensure market associations are involved in the project from the inception. Several meetings have been organised with market associations to ensure their active participation and ownership, said officials. Third, a design competition will be organised to identify “out-of-the-box” ideas.
Meanwhile, the Delhi government will also release a cloud kitchen policy, under which all licenses will be brought under a single-window system through a digital platform. The state will also overhaul various food hubs in the city, including those in Chandni Chowk and Majnu ka Tila.
The redevelopment will also ensure compliance with food safety and cleanliness guidelines, setting benchmarks for these hubs. The goal is to develop a distinct brand for these historically and culturally significant food centres in Delhi, said officials.
“The transformation of Delhi’s food outlets into Singapore-inspired culinary destinations is expected to create a thriving ecosystem that fosters innovation, excellence, and unparalleled dining experiences. By placing a special emphasis on food safety and hygiene, the government aims to instil consumer confidence and elevate Delhi’s reputation as a culinary hotspot,” Delhi government said in a statement.
These food hubs will feature a diverse range of delectable dishes, including street food, Tibetan momos, mouth-watering gol gappas, internationally renowned dal makhani, the best butter chicken, and all-time favourites like chole bhature and paranthas. “CM also highlighted the cultural and historical significance of Delhi’s food hubs, as they showcase culinary traditions passed down through generations. The aim is to enhance their popularity so that both local and international tourists can relish the flavours when they visit Delhi,” the government said.
To be sure, the ‘Delhi Food Hub Redevelopment’ initiative was announced under the Rozgaar Budget 2022-23 but the project is yet to land on the ground.
The government said a design competition will be organised for these hubs, with each prestigious food hub, namely Majnu Ka Tila and Chandni Chowk, participating in a six-week design competition in the first phase.
“This competition will not only source the best ideas from India but also invite contributions from other countries. The development of these food hubs will be based on their unique selling proposition (USP) in terms of food offerings. The appointment of architects will be made in the near future, marking the beginning of the revitalization process for these esteemed food hubs. The project is divided into market selection, design competition, and project implementation. In the first phase, a comprehensive analysis was conducted to select two food hubs for redevelopment from all the food hubs across Delhi,” the government said.