Book­worms have their haunt back, new ad­dress a stone’s throw away

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times City - Pankhuri.Ya­dav @times­group.com I am happy that it’s back. I have my own library at home cre­ated from the books I pur­chased from the Sun­day bazaar —

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.

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