Bookworms have their haunt back, new address a stone’s throw away
New Delhi: As the Sunday street book market of Daryaganj opened at its new location, the stalls largely wore a deserted look — the early morning showers might have played a major role — but there was a buzz among the vendors. The shift to Mahila Haat, necessitated by the market’s earlier location at Netaji Subhash Marg being declared a no-squatting and no-hawking zone, ended a two-month-long uncertainty for the sellers.
A north corporation official said Mahila Haat was finalised as the new site after a meeting with the representatives of 276 vendors, who had been putting up stalls at Daryaganj for decades. Most vendors TOI spoke to were happy with the shift to a “more sophisticated” location. Though the beginning was hardly auspicious, they hoped that the buyers would be back in large numbers soon.
“It’s our first day at the new place and, so, not many people may be aware of the market reopening,” explained Jitender Kumar, who has been selling books at Daryaganj for over 15 years. Farooq Ahmed, another vendor who claimed to have been in the business for over 28 years, said he expected the shift to be beneficial in the long run.
In a report submitted to high court last year, Delhi traffic police had stated that as the booksellers occupied the footpath on Netaji Subhash Marg, there was hardly any space left for pedestrians. Selling books at the market was the only source of income for many vendors, and Delhi high court’s direction in July to shut it down had hit them hard.
The vendors were given the option to shift to different venues, including Ramlila Ground. They finally agreed to put up their stalls at Mahila Haat as the place is located opposite Delite Cinema and is close to a metro station.
On Sunday, TOI caught up with Rakhi Sinha, a buyer who claimed to be a regular visitor to the Sunday market for a decade. Sinha said she was distraught when she came to know that the market was being closed. “I am happy that it’s back. I have my own library at home created from the books I purchased from the Sunday bazaar,” she said. Her mother, Kavita, said she had passed on her love for books to her daughter. “As a kid, I used to wait for Sundays to go to the market. It broke my heart when I read that it was being closed. You can buy so many books for cheap here that you can’t otherwise afford,” she said.
Officials are confident that the new venue will be a pleasant experience for buyers and sellers alike. “There is ample parking space and two entry points for visitors. There is a provision for ramps too,” an official said. North corporation commissioner Varsha Joshi said 139 vendors had put up stalls on the very first day. With a cashless system, the civic body aims to remove any possibility of harassment of the vendors while paying the vending fee.
Encouraged by the results, the corporation now wants to regularise other weekly markets too. “We hope to replicate this model at other places. We have already offered to set up a Monday market at Ajmal Khan Road,” Joshi said.