The modernizing government in Delhi is taking aim at the city’s characteristic street culture, including the book market that has charmed passersby for decades.
The [Daryaganj Sunday book market in Delhi] was removed by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation over “traffic concerns” based on a High Court order dated July 3, 2019. However, “the order only mentions one part of the market as a non-vending zone, that is Netaji Subhash Road which also had several other temporary markets along it,“ said Ankit Jha, a social worker at the NGO YUVA, who has been campaigning for the rights of street vendors.
The municipality interpreted the court order as a mandate to remove the entire market. This has not just affected the 276 book sellers, but the entire city.
Shiv Viswanathan, a well-known Indian academic, calls the eviction a “demolition of memories” by the civic authorities and court, and an “encroachment on life and livelihoods.” Ankit points out that the eviction of the market also violates the Street Vendors’ Act of 2014and the recently formulated 2019 Street Vendors’ Scheme. “As per the scheme, the eviction of vendors without first conducting a survey to map them is a violation of the basic idea behind the Act which has been named Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Vending for a reason,”1Ankit said.
- 1. Recently, the municipality offered the vendors an alternate location, Mahila Haat, a dedicated and elevated open-air plaza close to the market which was initially meant for women artisans to showcase and sell their crafts but has been lying unused for years. ... most book sellers are against the relocation. “No consensus was taken in allocating the Mahila Haat to us. We are a heritage market only if we stay where we have been setting up our market for decades as a mixed-use public space,” Sumit [Verma, a book seller] said, referring to the clause under the Street Vendors’ Act which declares “natural markets” older than 50 years as heritage markets that cannot be relocated.