x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Bazaar under a Delhi flyover - but nothing bizarre about it

In just 15 minutes, a deserted road facing the Indira Gandhi Stadium comes alive with a colourful ensemble of clothing and market stalls by street vendors who gather there every Sunday.

NEW DELHI // In just 15 minutes, a deserted road facing the Indira Gandhi Stadium comes alive with a colourful ensemble of clothing and market stalls by street vendors who gather there every Sunday.

The bazaar has 1,000 vendors who were scattered in various parts of the city until 2009, when the Self-Employed Women's Association (Sewa) stepped to rescue their regular gathering spot displaced by a Commonwealth Games project.

"The idea is to be ... utilising spaces which are usually considered as wasteland, and ensuring safe and secure workplace to the poor vendors who are displaced every now and then," said Ankita Upreti, of SEWA.

The market was moved when construction began of a flyover, as part of the 2010 Games. It was then Sewa began pitching the idea of a weekly, regulated bazaar to government officials and mobilising the vendors, said Ms Upreti.

"We met the architect before the construction work on the flyover began. The idea of having a street vendors' market beneath the flyover was put forth, which he liked," said Ms Upreti.

In an agreement with the city's public works department, Sewa took on the job of cleaning, beautifying and maintaining the market. An attendance record is kept for the weekly vendors.

Each Sunday, the market is abuzz with buyers from noon until 3pm. Customers include traders from Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, to people seeking an bargain.

"This market is a one-stop shop for small-town traders and consumers who want to buy clothes and second-hand goods.

"It is also providing a livelihood for the vendors displaced by the Games' construction work," said Geetabehn, 46, a street vendor from Ahmedabad in Gujerat state.

On the other days of the week, the sellers visit various neighbourhoods in the capital, collecting old clothes and other discarded household goods in exchange for new utensils. These are then sold at the Sunday bazaar.

Spaces are marked at the bazaar for authorised vendors, reducing the chaos and improving the atmosphere. It is what distinguishes the bazaar from the 268 other weekly markets, said another vendor, Geelabehn, 55.

"The change I see here is the sense of security that has been brought in. Unlike other places I have sat at, there is no stench of public toilets, no druggists and not even demands for protection money," he said.