Thursday, May 28, 2009

Stir at Gole Mkt over eviction plan

Plans to conserve Gole Market as a heritage building means 27 

establishments located there will now have to shut shop. 

On Wednesday, shopkeepers of Gole Market protested the move to evict them. They claimed they had not been provided with alternative space to shift. The shop owners have demanded that alternative space be provided to them which were similar in size and of same rent as the ones leased out to them in Gole Market. Some of the well known establishments in the area are Galina Restaurant, Gujarat Fishery and Sagar Restaurant. 

"Gole market is a heritage building and we want to restore it. Hence no commercial activity can be allowed there. Even the traffic department has said a market there disturbs traffic circulation besides adding to nuisance value for local residents. We might build a small museum there in the future but giving the market back to the traders is out of question. The traders want a new site at the same rate which is not possible. We have already taken possession of eight shops,'' said a senior NDMC official. 

Said Narayan Shamnani, president of Gole Market Merchant Association: "NDMC had promised to rehabilitate us elsewhere. But now they are asking us to vacate without providing us with alternative space. We will not accept this. We have been functioning from Gole Market for over 60 years now. If need be we will organise a protest march at Jantar Mantar on Thursday.'' 

He added: "In reply to an RTI filed by us, NDMC in 2006 had said it was not dislocating us but proposing to shift each shopkeeper to a vacant plot available in the complex for a period of 54 weeks. Afterwards, we were given alternative spaces to shift out in. But the sizes of shops were so small and these shops were allocated in areas like a subway in Palika Bazaar or Sarojini Nagar, where it is impossible to open up restaurants or meat shops. When we did not accept their alternative, they sealed four shops.'' 

Traders in Gole Market pay anything between Rs 200 and Rs 2000 as rent for prime rental property. Said Raj Kishore Bansal, who owns Royal Store: "My family has been functioning from here since 1937. We can't just be expected to vacate and leave." 

Due to the dilapidated state of Gole Market, the building had been declared dangerous. One of Delhi's oldest surviving colonial markets, it was constructed in 1912 and unauthorised construction along with lack of proper maintenance had led to part of the heritage beauty of the building being destroyed, said NDMC officials. 

Apart from facade restoration, NDMC is also planning interior restoration and upgradation of the surrounding structure. The project cost which was initially estimated at about Rs. 6.31 crore has now escalated to about Rs 8.53 crore

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