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Sadar Bazaar: Wholesale hub not fit for walking

The New Indian Express logo The New Indian Express 05-06-2019 Somrita Ghosh
a group of people walking down a busy city street: E-rickshaws have made Sadar Bazaar more chaotic, adding to the already teeming road traffic on the narrow lane. Decongestion is the need of the hour | Naveen KUMAR © Provided by The New Indian Express E-rickshaws have made Sadar Bazaar more chaotic, adding to the already teeming road traffic on the narrow lane. Decongestion is the need of the hour | Naveen KUMAR

NEW DELHI: Chaos greets visitors, traders, and buyers alike at any point of time in Sadar Bazaar. Market regulars contend that the wholesale hub badly needs demarcated zones for pedestrians. Even shop owners are open to development at the business district at Old Delhi.

The reasons are obvious. If dingy lanes, encroachment, and heavy footfall were not enough, unruly vehicles — be it matadors, mini vans, small trucks, hand pulled carts and e-rickshaws — make it difficult for pedestrians to walk on the narrow, broken streets. The teeming roads replete with never ending sights and sounds can leave outsiders exhausted even before reaching their destination.

It is no wonder that the North Delhi Municipal Corporation plans to decongest Sadar Bazaar on the lines of a similar exercise at the Ajmal Khan Road in Karol Bagh. Beautification of the city’s largest wholesale market of household items is also on the cards.

Even market regulars like Madhu Chawla, who runs her own shop of cosmetic and beauty products in Dwarka, agrees that walking on the street of Sadar Bazaar is no less than a challenge.“It is so chaotic that even a distance of 100 meters takes more than 20 minutes to cover. The e-rickshaws are in abundance here and always in hurry. Half of the road is occupied by cars of shop owners and small trucks that bring goods. Where will we walk? If the civic body plans to pedestrianise the road, then it will be blessing for us,” Madhu told this newspaper.

Encroachment by small traders leaves hardly any space for pedestrians to walk. Whatever little space left is gobbled up by street vendors, who set up stalls on the road.“Commotion is a common sight. The scene will improve if a proper parking place is made here and vehicles are stopped from entering the road. At least there will be space to walk properly,” says Anju Arora, who came from GTB Nagar to buy goods at a cheaper rate.

More than a market

Tucked between two metro stations Chandni Chowk (Yellow Line) and Tis Hazari (Red Line), Sadar Bazaar is the hub of wholesale trading centre frequented mostly by traders and businessmen who purchase items, including household goods, toys, imitation jewellery and stationery, in bulk.

Touted as Asia’s largest marketplace, Sadar Bazaar consists of smaller markets such as Azad Market, Naya Bazaar, Bahadurgarh Road, Qutub Road, Pahari Dhiraj, Pul Mithai and Teliwara.

Sadar Bazaar, the first suburb of Shahjahanabad developed in 1830, can be reached via Tia Hazari metro station from where e-rickshaws are available. If one goes from Chandni Chowk, then one need to take a right turn fro, Fatehpuri mosque and again turn left and then walk straight.

Traders game for change

After the positive development at Ajmal Khan Road, the Sadar Bazaar Traders Association had written many times to both Commissioner of North MCD Varsha Joshi and Lt Governor Anil Baijal demanding similar plans to decongest the market at Old Delhi. “We are in support of development. If pedestrainising the market will improve the condition, then were ready for it. But things shouldn’t be done randomly. Few infrastructure changes like proper parking zone for both visitors and traders should be built first and then other changes (can begin). Also, there is a need for building proper public toilet especially for women,” said Dev Raj Baweja, Confederation of Sadar Bazaar Traders Association told this publication.“Pedestrianising is any day much easier and more humane, but not a magic solution. A lot of other factors need to be studied before jumping in the decision,” cautions AGK Menon, Urban Planner.Unlike the visitors and association, traders and businessmen have another take on the civic body’s plan to decongest the market.

“What was implemented at Ajmal Khan Road may not fetch the same result here. Sadar Bazar is more a B2B market. We need to load and unload items. If entry of vehicles is stopped, then how will we function?” asserts Vijay Khilrani, who owns a shop.The traders also spoke about a few clumsy MCD parking spaces that are in a bad shape. The reporter visited one such parking plot and found hardly six-seven cars parked there. The caretaker informs that mostly it is two-wheelers that are parked in that plot.

The other parking space for the market is near the Sadar Bazar railway station. However, the businessmen claim that the zone is extremely unsafe as it is a slum area and stealing of spare parts is common there.

“Most people come here with their cars…they come for trade. If vehicles are banned, our business will be drastically affected. So what is needed is a good parking space, which will be comfortable for both traders and visitors instead of directly banning entry of four wheelers. We have been hearing talks on this for a long now, so let’s see when it happens,” says Kishan Jain, who has a hardware store for past 80 years.

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