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Saturday, Oct 19, 2019

Delhi’s Basant Lok market to get amphitheatre, parking lots in Rs 10-crore makeover

Basant Lok market, constructed in the 1970s, was once one of the most happening hangout zones of Delhi.

delhi Updated: Sep 25, 2018 03:50 IST
Vibha Sharma
Vibha Sharma
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The market, constructed in 1970s, had broken walkways and choked drains. Also, there were no fire safety arrangements. It prompted the traders to approach the DDA for getting the market renovated.
The market, constructed in 1970s, had broken walkways and choked drains. Also, there were no fire safety arrangements. It prompted the traders to approach the DDA for getting the market renovated. (HT Photo)

It was one of the favourite hangout of Delhi’s hip and happening, a market that had everything one would ask for — a chic movie theatre, cool eateries, well-stocked bookshop and brand retail stores.

But over the years, the Basant Lok Market, popularly known as Priya’s, lost the race to multiplexes and glitzy malls.

But hope is at hand as the market is finally getting a Rs 10-crore makeover.

By March 2019, the market is expected to have an open amphitheatre, open plazas, green spaces, ornamental lights, spacious corridors with granite floors and parking lots, among others.

The project is being implemented by the Delhi Development Authority’ (DDA) on the directions of the Union ministry for urban and housing affairs.

“Work has already started in the market and presently, cables are being laid for streetlight poles, the fire management system is being developed and rainwater harvesting pits are being constructed to avoid water logging. It will be completed in a couple of days,” Ramesh Kumar, DDA’s chief engineer, said.

In the next phase, the authority plans to construct open areas made of granite and cobblestone, disabled-friendly pavements, an amphitheatre in place of the fountain, green spaces, toilets and a sewage treatment plant. Street furniture, CCTV cameras and public announcement systems are part of the makeover plans.

Glory days

The market, constructed in the 1970s, was once one of the most happening hangout zones of Delhi.

The legendary Priya’s cinema that used to screen Hollywood movies in the old days now happens to be the flagship property of PVR Cinemas. It was among the first ventures of PVR to open in the city.

Residents of Vasant Vihar, an elite neighbourhood flanking the market, recall that McDonald’s opened its first-ever outlet in the country at this market.

“When vodka first began to be served in golgappas, it happened here, at the Punjabi by Nature restaurant. Homesick western expats used to have freshly-baked croissants at the Choko La, but it closed in May 2011. The place was also known for Siddharth Hotel, later named as Jaypee Vasant Continental,” 54-year-old Vivek Tandon, a resident of Vasant Vihar, recalled.

Expats still visit Modern Bazaar, a supermarket that sells imported food items and bakery products. “In the 1970s, English movies were screened at Priya when people hardly even watched them in the city. We were in college and used to go there in groups to watch films. The place hasn’t lost its charm even today and is a class apart from its counterparts, such as Odeon, Regal or Rivoli cinemas in Connaught Place,” 68-year-old Suresh Goel, a resident of Vasant Vihar, argued.

Business owners hope the modern infrastructure and the revamp will breathe new life into the market.

“When you have a great property like this one — with the name, the history, the legacy — it just needs restoration in its new avatar. With the ongoing renovation at PVR Priya, we aim to offer a better cinematic experience to our viewers.

“We are excited to see how the refurbished Basant Lok complex brings back lost glory to one again become one of the most spirited complexes of the city,” Ajay Bijli, chairman and managing director, PVR Limited, said.

Why renovation

Lack of maintenance and depleting infrastructure in the market has affected footfall. A survey by traders sometime back showed that besides broken walkways and choked drains, there are no fire safety arrangements in the market.

Also, after malls came up in nearby Vasant Kunj and Saket, most of the popular stores rolled down shutters and migrated, traders said.

“No renovation was undertaken in market for decades. It affected our business badly. At least 40% customers stopped coming here. Even the branded outlets shut down or stopped taking stores on rent here,” Pawan Gulati, a trader from market, said.

The debilitating condition of the market forced traders to approach the DDA and other departments concerned, demanding renovation.

In 2008, the Basant Lok Community Centre Welfare Association (BLCCWA) formed a maintenance committee for regularly pushing matters related to the development of the market with the Lieutenant Governor and DDA.

“We even agreed to pay a fee for preparing a detailed plan through an architect to upgrade the market. The plan was later scrutinised and approved by the DDA’s screening committee and architects,” SS Lamba, president, maintenance committee, said.

Besides improving civic services and common areas, there is plan for the redevelopment of piazzas, tensile umbrellas, benches and public conveniences.

“There is no plan to upgrade the buildings except to improve the electrical and fire-fighting mechanisms. Things are done after taking the permission of the Delhi Fire services,” a DDA official said.

As soon as work on amphitheatre ends, traders plan to organise an interactive programme after an interval of time to attract crowds.

“The DDA plans to construct walkways from the market till a heritage monument — Bara Lao Ka Gumbad —belonging to the Lodhi era and located inside a park at the back of the market. This will help get more visitors to the place,” Vimal Jetha, executive president, BLCCWA, said.

First Published: Sep 25, 2018 03:50 IST

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