From Hope? Posh market with country’s first multiplex struggles to survive | Delhi News

NEW DELHI: The Saket Community Centre was once a tony hub of entertainment, its pride being PVR Anupam, India’s first multiplex, opened in 1997. The electric blue façade of the theater attracted young revellers and families alike and the small market became a cozy den of leisure and entertainment. And while the multiplex itself opened anew in 2021 after renovation, there has been no makeover for the now decaying commercial center.
TOI visited the place recently and found the Anupam complex nailing the lie of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi that it had taken measures to improve cleanliness and maintenance in the city’s prominent markets. The tiling was in a decrepit condition, the pavements were encroached, there was malodorous garbage spilling out from the dumps and the pleasing fountain hadn’t spewed water for years. The once-green spaces in the market were all barren.

Residents living in the vicinity of the complex and the traders‘ association claimed that for over a decade, there has been no renovation of the market. “Unlike Basant Lok market, ours wasn’t fortunate to have been earmarked for a revamp despite its location in a posh area,” said Suresh Kaul, president, Saket Senior Citizens’ Welfare Association.
Nageshwar Prasad Singh, president, Anupam Shopping Arcade, said, “Maintenance here is really poor.” He seemed not to believe his eyes as he surveyed the garbage lying around in heaps. “Strangely, the dhalao is located next to the marketplace and often garbage overflows onto the roads.” Asked about this, MCD insisted that sweeping and removal of garbage was done regularly and said it had launched the Swachhta Pakhwada on June 11 to repair and clean the complex.

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Singh continued, “Some damaged tiles in the market area were replaced recently, big potholes still exist. We had constructed two public toilets, but one was demolished by the municipal corporation and now visitors use a small park behind the Mother Dairy outlet as a public toilet.”
Suraj, manager of the Kathi’s and Depaul’s outlets there, claimed, “Every shop keeps its own dustbins because there are very few municipal bins, which, in any case, are only cleared every two or three days.” He said that the shop fixed the tiles and the space in front of the shops with its own money so that it remains accessible for the shoppers
The local residents and shop owners at the complex claim to have approached the civic authorities numerous times for restoration work. Anantmala Potdar, president, Saket Block D RWA, said they had requested beautification, relaying of tiles, enhancement of greenery and, most importantly, removal of encroachments from the market. “Many eateries have cropped up and hawkers have crowded the complex in recent days,” said Potdar. “It is difficult to walk near PVR in the evenings because the public space has been taken over by hawkers and food outlets.”
Rakesh Dabas, resident of G Block, added, “These eateries throw their greasy leftovers and waste into the sewer and choke them. There are so many hawkers that it is difficult now to locate the fountain area on the complex.” Santosh Kumar, owner of Sunny Communications, added, “New eateries and stores open up every 2-3 months and just as quickly close down. The stalls, half of them unauthorized, take up a lot of the public space.”
In fact, pointed out Kaul, the fountain is now used by eateries to clean their utensils. It has also become a repository of garbage and a breeding ground for mosquitoes. “Rather than let it exist in this dilapidated state, MCD should seal up the fountain or make it operational again,” said Kaul.
The shoppers are also constantly harassed by the innumerable beggars on the premises. Sunny Communication’s Kumar claimed, “There are 30-40 beggars here at all times. They don’t leave the shopper alone and sometimes even pester the shoppers in groups. If you aren’t careful, they even try to steal items you may be carrying.”
On being asked about this sad state of affairs, an MCD official admitted there was no repair or renovation work planned for the market. “However, from time to time, we take steps to remove encroachments. The public health department carries out food hygiene raids against the temporary eateries,” the official claimed.
Kumar said the market hasn’t been the same after the disastrous lockdown of 2020. Other business owners at the once blooming commercial center said things looked unlikely to improve if the market itself was given a facelift and maintained properly.

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