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DDA in a mess over clearing Walled City

By Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar

NEW DELHI SEPT. 12. The proposal to decongest Walled City area of Delhi by taking relocating the wholesale trade appears to have run into a roadblock as the Delhi Development Authority is finding it hard to procure land for setting up the Integrated Freight Complexes in four corners of the Capital.

To take wholesale trade out of the heart of the Capital, the Master Plan had proposed development of regional wholesale markets along with warehousing and truck terminal facilities on the major entry routes of Delhi -- near Patparganj and on Loni Road in East Delhi, at Madanpur Khadar in South, and at two other points in South-West and North.

Subsequently, Integrated Freight Complexes were planned by DDA at Ghazipur in East Delhi, Madanpur Khadar in South, Dwarka in South-West and Narela in North-West Delhi. It was envisaged that these market complexes would discharge functions at regional and metropolitan level.

In keeping with the volumes of trade, they were expected to handle, the plan also incorporated parking, repair and servicing facilities therein. It was felt that by making arrangements for existence of wholesale trade dealing in all kinds of products in each of these complexes, it would not only decongest and decentralise trade within Delhi, but also assist traders coming from neighbouring States in conducting their sale or purchase at the borders and leaving from there itself.

Thus the plan envisaged regional wholesale markets all around Delhi to prevent unnecessary entry of vehicles into the heart of the city. At a later stage, it would have led to a complete ban on entry of goods vehicles in some parts of Delhi.

However, while 131 hectares of land has been earmarked at Ghazipur, 158 hectares in Madanpur Khadar, 164 hectares in Narela and 125 hectares in Dwarka under the Plan, only the Ghazipur land is actually with DDA. And here too part of the land -- now being used as a sanitary landfill -- will be turned into a green area as per Supreme Court orders.

Still, the fish and poultry market and a wholesale vegetable market have moved to Ghazipur. Also, as per the Additional Commissioner (Planning) of DDA, N.K. Aggarwal, the paper market is due to move there soon. For the 2,000-odd paper merchants -- mostly from Chawri Bazar -- who would be accommodated there, the DDA is envisaging giving plots for construction of three-storeyed buildings which would house shops and godowns.

A large commercial centre housing offices of various traders' associations, fire services, post-office, banks and other facilities related to commerce and communication is also being planned.

But the Ghazipur complex apart -- which too is coming up at a snail's pace -- the situation appears gloomy elsewhere. At Madanpur Khadar, 60 per cent of the land is owned by the U.P. Irrigation Department, with which DDA has been negotiating in vain to reach a working solution. And while land is yet to be acquired at Narela, in Dwarka it's land use needs to be changed to provide for its use for trade purpose.

The civic agency is also facing resistance from traders reluctant to move to new locations. Not wanting to repeat the blunder of the relocation of the cycle market at Chandni Chowk, which only partially moved to Jhandewalan, adding to the chaos, DDA had asked the chemical traders if they wanted to shift to Ghazipur or Narela. With the traders changing their mind, the agency is struggling to meet its own targets.

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