The space between Bhadra Fort, built by Ahmad Shah, the founder of the city in 1411, and Teen Darwaja was earlier the Maidan-e-Shahi or the royal square where the sultan held court. Over the years, it turned into the bustling town centre - with monuments such as Bhadra Kali Temple and Azam Khan Sarai. The fort itself was used for multiple purposes by rulers of the city over time.
In 2012, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) rolled out an ambitious Bhadra Plaza project, intending to clear up the space for the public at the cost of Rs 115 crore. The ambitious project wanted to put the scattered hawkers at the area in a proper space, clear the ground so visitors can enjoy the charm of the Walled City while the area is vehicle-free.
On Saturday, AMC authorities finally came up with a tricky solution to the hawker issue. Officials say, the historic square has 1,580 registered hawkers of whom 690 will get space at the square itself — kiosks at given spaces alongside the promenade. Allotment will take place by a draw. The others will allocated space near Sardar Baug and Victoria Garden (450 and 440 respectively).
M Thennarasan, deputy municipal commissioner, AMC, said that the allocation will take place in early November and be complete for all three spaces by the beginning of December. Effectively, the plaza will be hawker-free this month - an integral part of the original plan.
While hawkers give the informal bazaar character, they have been a hindrance for planners. Nearly 2,000 hawkers conduct business in the area and the first resistance came when AMC started work on the plaza. Officials said the authorities needed police help to clear the construction area. In exchange, the hawkers were promised space on the Sabarmati Riverfront on the lines of the Ravivari Bazaar (Sunday Market) and near IP Mission School.
However, after resistance by both riverfront and school authorities, civic authorities were forced to think on new lines. When the protests became too loud, authorities allowed hawkers to conduct business on the newly-constructed plaza as 'reclaiming' started before Diwali and hawkers were happy as the area was declared no-vehicle zone.
Officials confessed that shifting them will not be easy.