Cannot Place: Shoppers' nightmare
For Connaught Place shop owners, the monsoon season sale is second only to the business done during Diwali. But this year, they are struggling to even recover cost, let alone make any profit. Neelam Pandey reports.Updated: Aug 04, 2010, 00:56 IST
For Connaught Place (CP) shop owners, the monsoon season sale is second only to the business done during Diwali.
But this year, they are struggling to even recover cost, let alone make any profit.
Traders claim sales have dipped by 90 per cent in Middle Circle and 50 per cent in Outer Circle. Business at Inner Circle, they say, has declined by almost 30 per cent.
It all began in June 2009, when work to restore CP's old-world charm started against the backdrop of the Commonwealth Games that were to begin in October a year later.
Today, exactly 60 days before the Games begin, CP is languishing in a cycle of never-ending construction amid careless heaps of building material, debris and post-monsoon slush.
Business has been a direct casualty. Buyers, a number of attractive monsoon season sales and massive discounts notwithstanding, are looking away.
With several entry points closed due to ongoing construction and virtually no room left to walk, shop owners in Inner and Outer circles claim sales have dipped by as much as 60-70 per cent.
Power supply is unpredictable at best and wayward voltage fluctuations a daily norm.
With underground cable networks tampered with, the option of cashless payments is also not available, while parking continues to be a giant hassle.
"This is the worst situation I have faced in the last 20 years," said Manoj Aggarwal, managing partner of Mohan Lal and Sons established in 1881.
Sonu Malhotra, a BlackBerry store manager, is struggling to meet sales targets.
"Compared to last year, our business is down by 50 per cent. The debit card facility is not available and customers who do come to CP eventually leave when they find payment can only be made through cash," he said.
"With so many malls in the city, why would people come to CP that is half dug up anyway?"
The July 31 deadline set by New Delhi Municipal Council for completion of work has now been extended to the end of this month.
"Traders have suffered losses due to NDMC's lack of planning," rued Atul Bhargava, president of New Delhi Traders' Association.