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Wednesday, Oct 16, 2019

Iconic Sunday book market that was shut in July reopens at new address

A short distance away from the Mahila Haat, near Delhi Gate metro station, about 100 vendors lined up with pamphlets in their hands, sloganeering against the “forceful” and “unlawful” relocation of the book market.

delhi Updated: Sep 16, 2019 08:46 IST
Adrija Roychowdhury
Adrija Roychowdhury
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The vendors were evicted from Daryaganj on grounds of traffic regulations, as per the high court order. Since then, the 276 vendors were in constant negotiation with the North Delhi Municipal Corporation for a new address.
The vendors were evicted from Daryaganj on grounds of traffic regulations, as per the high court order. Since then, the 276 vendors were in constant negotiation with the North Delhi Municipal Corporation for a new address. (HT FILE)
         

The iconic book market at Daryaganj, which was shut down in July following the Delhi High Court’s order, was reopened at its new address on Sunday after a gap of eight weeks. The market’s new home at Mahila Haat ground in Asaf Ali road, which was wet after the brief spell of morning rain, witnessed 139 out of the 276 book sellers setting up their stalls.

“We are very happy to have finally got our market back. This place is much cleaner, and has a parking lot and toilets for customers. This is also close to Asaf Ali Road, so we will not lose much time in transporting our books,” said Amar Sayeed,58, who has been selling books in the historic book market since the age of 18.

The book market, which has a history of over 50 years, had last opened at Daryaganj on July 21. The vendors were evicted from Daryaganj on grounds of traffic regulations, as per the high court order. Since then, the 276 vendors were in constant negotiation with the North Delhi Municipal Corporation for a new address.

“We have legitimised them now and given them a safe space. At the same time, we have removed them from the space where they were blocking traffic,” said Varsha Joshi, commissioner, North civic body.

The new space has been given to the vendors at a two-year lease and a weekly rent of Rs 170. Earlier, they were paying Rs 15 as rent every week.

“We had no source of income in the past eight weeks. If we do not take up this new space now, how will we earn our livelihood?” said Asarfilal Verma, who has been selling books for 20 years.

“Initially, it might take some time for customers to start coming in due to the change in address. But we are confident that over time we will manage to make best possible use of this space,” added Verma.

However, some vendors are not happy with the new place. A short distance away from the Mahila Haat, near the Delhi Gate metro station, about 100 vendors lined up with pamphlets in their hands, sloganeering against the “forceful” and “unlawful” relocation of the book market.

“This is completely illegal and against our wishes. Now, we are being asked to sign a lease of two years for this new place. Then what is the point of the street vendors Act?” said Sumit Verma, one of the protesting vendors.

As per the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014, a town vending committee (TVC) has to be formed for the examination and protection of street markets. Any street market can be removed or relocated only after being surveyed by the TVC.

When asked about the issue, Arbind Singh, national coordinator of the National Association of Street Vendors of India, said, “The Delhi government formed the TVC earlier this year. However, the committee is yet to be notified. Now, the municipal corporation has been arguing that the survey of this market cannot happen because the TVC is not yet notified.”

While the vendors are divided on their stand over the relocation, the customers too have a mixed response to it. “I liked new place more because it is compact and has parking facility,” said Alka, a regular customer at the market.

Rudrajit Bose, another regular visitor, said that “it does not have the heritage, the culture or the feel of the previous market.”

“The new space is being seen as an upgrade, which is a futuristic approach. The new space carries the promise of betterment. It is also seen as a loss of “a thing of past”, said Kanupriya Dhingra, a PhD scholar in School of Oriental and African Studies in London and is doing her thesis on the Sunday book market at Daryaganj.

First Published: Sep 16, 2019 03:46 IST

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