Palika in bigger mess after renovation

Palika in bigger mess after renovation

Lelo lelo lelo, 100 ka do 100 ka do’...these are the kind of calls that greet you as you walk into one of Delhi’s best known shopping places Palika Bazaar. Set up in 1978, the City’s first underground mart located under the Central Park, hosts more than 400 shops selling a diverse range of items. It is known primarily for cheap electronic goods and export garments.

Palika however, sports a dubious reputation for the wide availability of illegal and smuggled products like fake designer stuff, artificial and tacky jewellery and pirated CDs, software and movies.

Palika Market which usually makes news for wrong reaso­ns, however, is actually is on the offensive this time. The shopkeepers are most upset with NDMC for carrying out really shoddy renovation work which is literally coming apart at the seams and is now giving them nightmares now.

Just a year after the renovated Bazaar was inaugurated by none other than CM Sheila Dikshit, it is already showing signs of urgent repairs.

Dinesh Gaur, president Palika Bazaar Shopkeeper’s Welfare Association (PBSWA), smells corruption in the work carried out in the Bazaar.

“We have requested for a vigilance inquiry as per the norms. They have us­ed cheap material for repairs and renovation work and now we are facing problems.”

Shutters which were insta­l­led during renovation, for instance, are actually coming off the hinges and falling apart. “A normal shop shutter which should have cost no more than Rs 10,000 has been shown on papers (signed between NDMC and contractors) at Rs 45, 000 a piece. This is the kind of work that was carried out,” says Dinesh.

The interiors of the mart are seen to be believed. The false ceiling which supports electrical fittings and air-conditioning has begun to peel in places and cracks have appeared everywhere; loose wiring and live hanging wires add to the troubles.

Sewage pipes are in dilapidated shape. Adding to the mess are stinking washrooms and dirty floors. Mehar Elahi, vice-president PBSWA, says, “The old pipe lines have not been changed.” Over years, drainage pipes have got damaged and choked due to the massive construction work in CP. In some shops, water has begun seeping into the flooring and shopkeepers are finding it hard to stock goods.

“I keep my stuff in polythene bags now because of the flowing water. I have leather goods here and water has ruined many items. Till when and how can we safeguard our goods?,” asks an irate Ramesh Chand, a shop owner.

One of the main centres for disaster management mock drill conducted in the City earlier this year, Palika Bazaar ironically, is yet to a fire clearance from Delhi Fire Service.
Another complication for shopkeepers are the hawkers outside the Bazaar. According to Palika Association, just 97 are allowed officially but there are over 200 operational. This also blocks the main entrance to the parking and the market.

“These hawkers have eaten into our businesses. The footfall has dropped due to these stalls and NDMC’s inaction. Each hawker pays at least Rs 2000-3000 to the constable and that is why nobody removes them,” adds Dinesh.

When it comes to complaints,  the list seems endless and includes poor sanitation services too. The Association has files full of documents but are the authorities listening or do they even care?

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