Friday, May 17, 2019

Two months after ‘opening’, Basant Lok market still a patchwork of repairs

Ms. Vibha Sharma | TNN  | May 16, 2019

NEW DELHI: The revamped Basant Lok Market in south Delhi was inaugurated on March 5. And yet, there is hardly a sense of things being all right there. The parking area is yet to be tiled, the two entrances opposite Munirka Marg haven’t been refurbished, the lanes at the back aren’t finished and neither the installing of the tensile umbrella at the open amphitheatre and the fire hydrants nor the construction of the toilet block have been done.

Five days before the model code of conduct kicked in after the announcement of the general elections two months ago, Union minister for housing and urban affairs Hardeep Singh Puri had inaugurated the so-called restored market. The shop owners today claim that progress on the project slowed down after that, leaving over 25% of the planned work pending.

The revamp work began in September 2018 and Delhi Development Authority was to have finished the project by March 2019. “DDA did construct an amphitheatre, reorganised the public spaces and put in tree guards and steel benches, while also providing pedestrian connectivity with Vasant Vihar metro station,” a shop owner said, requesting anonymity. “But the internal lanes next to the PVR complex remain dug up. Likewise, the water tank hasn’t been done nor the surfacing of the parking lot near Munirka Marg.”

Traders also alleged compromises in the quality of work and the non-inclusion of features such as disabled-friendly aids. “The tactile paving and the granite stones have already started eroding, and the construction debris still lying around, giving the market a shoddy look,” grumbled a trader.

A DDA official refuted the allegations. “It’s not true that the pace of work slowed down after the inauguration. In fact, we are making all effort to ensure quality of construction,” he said. “It will take us 3-4 months more to take care of the pending work.  The tensile umbrella, for instance, is 14 metres high and heavy and needs a proper base. That’s why we had to conduct a soil test before its designing and fabrication.”

The official also claimed to have earmarked space for vendors relocated from the main pathways and provided water connection from the tank to the hydrants. “The market, once revamped, will be the first fire-compliant commercial complex in Delhi,” he said.

The official also said that provisions for ramps were made at three places in market after inviting an NGO for to give suggestions for making the market place disabled-friendly. Svayam, the NGO working for uplift of persons with disabilities, however, isn’t happy. Its director Subhash Chandra Vashishth said, “Contrary to its plan for ramps at eight of the 10 entrances, we saw ramps only a couple of locations when we visited the market in March. Also, the verandah outside shops is uneven and could hamper movement of the disabled.”

Vashishth added that Svayam filed complaints about the “irregularities in the project plan” with minister Puri, lieutenant governor Anil Baijal and the chief commissioner for persons with disability. “The court has also taken cognizance of the matter and issued a show cause notice to DDA,” said Vashishth.

The market, constructed in the 1970s, was a popular shopping complex but lost out to the multiplexes and malls that came up in its vicinity. Neglected maintenance and decaying infrastructure led outlets of major brands to down shutters and migrate to the malls at Vasant Kunj and Saket. “In 2008, a newly formed traders’association took up the matter of the market’s restoration problems to the lieutenant governor, and finally Rs 10 crore was allocation for the project,” a shopkeeper disclosed.

Source: Times of India 

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