Gole Market wants to 'wake up' now

Gole Market wants to 'wake up' now

Local traders say netas have not shown interest to revive market

In the sleepy Gole Market area, shops have little charm to attract customers. Foreign tourists are a rare sight at the market situated slightly over a kilometre from the busy Connaught Place.

“Business has gone down in the past four years. Most of the days not even one customer comes to my shop. On a lucky day, the total sale goes up to Rs 5,000-Rs 6,000,” says Paramjeet Singh, who runs a Bengal Handloom Saree shop.

As he mutes the television, he adds uninterestedly that the market is a “sleeping one”.
“I am the third generation person in my family to run this shop,” he says shifting his focus to the ongoing cricket match.

A shop away a French customer excitedly points towards burfis at Karachi Halwa House and asks the shopkeeper to pack “10 of these”. Packing the sweets, the man behind the counter agrees, “Business is not as usual here”.

In the high-profile New Delhi constituency, traders at Gole Market and the adjacent Shaheed Bhagat Singh Market feel little will come out of the polls.

AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal won the 2013 Delhi Assembly elections against Congress’s Sheila Dikshit by a margin of 25,864 votes.

While the BJP has fielded debutante Nupur Sharma against Kejriwal, Congress’s Kiran Walia, a former state minister will also fight from the seat.

A kilometre away from the market, BJP candidate Sharma launched into an aggressive campaign near Kali Bari Marg on Thursday.

The BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi joined Sharma at Gurudwara Rakab Ganj Sahib to boost the campaign trail.   

However, traders think the Gole Market area today wears a neglected look as leaders have never shown interest in the market.

The New Delhi Municipal Council had discussed plans of turning the iconic Gole Market architecture into a museum. Rehabilitation of shopkeepers who were evacuated for carrying out this plan still remains pending, say traders.

“Not one elected representative or candidate has come and met us yet to ask us of our problems. The shopkeepers who were evacuated have not been rehabilitated properly till date.” says Sneh, who runs a shop selling old coins.

“The market has lost its lustre. Even though it was declared that the market will be given a heritage tag, it has been pending for years now. On the contrary, shopkeepers have lost out in the process,” he adds.

Several shopkeepers have been drawn into court cases with landlords issuing them notices to vacate the plots.

“This is the same problem that most shopkeepers here are facing. But some of them have been running a business here for over 30 years now. Where do they go now? There is no assurance of permanency for those of us on rent,” says Vikas Agarwal, who owns a cloth shop here.

Traders blame the dwindling footfall of customers on drainage problems, congestion, dirty toilet blocks, parking mess and three liquor shops situated in close proximity to the area.

“The toilets are choked and dirty. Even though it is the NDMC area, cleanliness is irregular especially in the backside of the market. Whenever there is any leader passing the area, the NDMC sends its trucks to sweep the area clean,” says S L Jain, president, Gole Market Traders Association.

Unlike other areas in New Delhi constituency where the buzz is of politics, traders here really do not care who comes to power.
They only want the “grandeur” of the market to be restored.