Revamp gathers pace to create a modern Meharchand Market | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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Revamp gathers pace to create a modern Meharchand Market

Feb 22, 2024 05:32 AM IST

A popular hub for local shoppers for decades, the bazaar slowly started transforming into one of the Capital’s upscale markets

A little after Partition in 1948, Ashok Sakhuja’s father, Brij Lal Sakhuja, opened his shop — a makeshift khokha that sold groceries — in the refugee market developed by the Land And Development Office (L&DO) in Lodhi Colony. In 1962, the market was renamed Meharchand Market, after Mehr Chand Khanna, the then Union minister for rehabilitation.

MCD’s building department has cleared the new building plans for more than 40 units in the market. (Sanchit Khanna/HT photo)
MCD’s building department has cleared the new building plans for more than 40 units in the market. (Sanchit Khanna/HT photo)

A popular hub for local shoppers for decades, the bazaar slowly started transforming into one of the Capital’s upscale markets -- with cafes, salons and chic boutiques -- in the late 2000s. But in January 2018, when a sealing drive by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) shut 135 out of the 153 shops after directions from a Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee, it started to slump overnight.

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On Wednesday, multiple plots in the market were covered with tin sheets, workers vigorously shaped the new buildings, and the area was abuzz with construction activity. All signs that the long-pending redevelopment of Meharchand Market was finally gathering pace.

MCD’s building department has cleared the new building plans for more than 40 units in the market.

The redevelopment plan had been pending since it was approved by erstwhile south MCD’s standing committee in January 2022. The civic body later sought some clarifications from L&DO on the allotment of common areas to shopkeepers.

Under the plan cleared by MCD, the shopkeepers are now allowed to develop the basement, ground, first and second floors with a mumty (staircase cover), along with provision for a washroom at the top. Traders can demolish and build new three-storey structures provided they conform to the standard facade control.

The panel appointed by the top court had said that only a ground floor was permitted in the market according to the original plan, but shopkeepers had illegally built additional space over time.

An MCD official, asking not to be named, said that owners can now apply for a new building plan keeping the design in mind.

“A verandah, too, has been allowed outside the shop. But they cannot build on top of the verandah as L&DO has not permitted any construction on top of it,” the official added.

In the 1960s, the market came to be known as the “Wonder Market” as it hosted over 60 shops selling all kinds of wares.

But it’s stock started to rise sharply in the late 2000s, and by 2014, nearly half of the 153 shops were taken over by designer boutiques, jewellers, and salons, apart from restaurants and cafes.

Ashok Sakhuja, 66, the president of the market association, said the market has seen many ups and downs and was now set for a rebound.

“Meharchand market was on its way to becoming like Khan Market and Hauz Khas in 2014 but the sealing drive jolt destroyed everything. With the redevelopment plan setting into motion and construction starting at 20-odd sites, we are hoping that the market will bounce back in a couple of years,” Sakhuja said.

He said that that all but seven shops have now been unsealed.

“They did not have the funding to unseal their shops. Money needed for redevelopment is an issue and many traders are planning to revamp their plots and have sought loans,” he added.

According to Sakhuja, traders are bound to pay the unsealing charges, freehold charges, and building plan charges over and above what they need to shell out for construction work.

“The redevelopment is costing 85-90 lakh in case freeholding of the plots is also involved,” he said.

Shop number 33 owned by Inderjeet Singh, the vice president of the market association, is the first one that completed the revamp — with a bright red-coloured facade. “We have kept the ground floor for us — Guru Teg Bahadur tent house — and the upper floor has been rented to a car company,” Singh said.

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