The main problems traders face in Delhi is that of encroachment. Specially in our Meena Bazaar area, there is haphazard encroachment. You can hardly locate the entrances of our shops.
There is lack of even basic facilities in our area – like availability of proper drinking water and sanitation. The roofs of Meena Bazaar have not been cleaned for a long time. During the monsoon, water from sewer lines overflows and there is foul smell, which is unbearable.
Meena Bazaar is one of Asia’s largest markets. But not even the basic amenities are available. The ladies’ toilet in these markets have men as employees, which should not be the case. We do not have any fire safety measures, which makes the area severely prone to all kinds of fire accidents. The whole of Meena Bazaar is an underground market, about 30-40 feet below the level of the road. Thus, God forbid, if there is a massive fire here some day then it will be a really tough task to escape. Here again encroachment poses a hazard.
Earlier, even trucks could pass from here into the market. But now even a cycle cannot get through. The police also have a role to play in this. The Councillor of our area is mostly unaware of these issues. And even if he is approached, he turns a deaf ear. Many of us have complained regarding this.
There are many other issues. And the worst part is we are unable to get any assistance or solution for our problems.
We have a WhatsApp group, where we put forward our grievances to the Councillor. Through that, the locals try to pressurise him to solve their issues. This has been helpful to some extent. But all these are done after a lot of complaints and requests. They never take any initiative by themselves. I filed an RTI once regarding this issue, to which they replied that our area has 50 cleaning staff assigned – but we have never seen even five of them.
Muhammad Naaem, 54, is a businessman and the president of Meena Bazaar Traders’ Association
— As told to Shruti Das