Sunday, April 18, 2010

Walk to the "Soon to be Annihilated" Flower Markets of Delhi

The city of flowers is giving way to the city of flyovers!, so said the call to participants for this walk last Sunday.

Our Sunday morning sleep-in is sacrosanct. Husband will only wake up early if there is a cricket match being played on the opposite side of the globe or if we have to travel in the morning (even though we do our best to avoid travelling on Sundays)

A walk that would start at 6am, would mean waking up by 5am to reach the meeting point in time. Would it be worth the effort? Should we try to make it or not? What tilted the balance, was when we realised that these markets that have flourished for decades, may no longer be around next month, if the court has its way.

The powers-that-be want to shift all the flower markets of Delhi to a single location in Ghazipur. While this may seem like a great plan on paper mandi hatao, shahar se baahar kar do, there are ramifications of this for everyone.

Lets take a look at the composition of these mandis. 2 of these mandis - the Fatehpuri Masjid Mandi in Chandni Chowk area and the Hanuman Mandir Mandi at Bhabha Kharak Singh Marg are temporary markets that operate from 4am to 9am. By the time the multiple state emporia on Bhabha Kharak Singh Marg and the Spice Market of Khari Baoli open at 10am, there is no sign that these flower markets were doing business worth crores until just an hour earlier.

Most vendors at these markets are either farmers or part timers who go back to their flower farms and second jobs once the market closes for business. Will they be able to do both if the location shifts to Ghazipur given the travel time?

The Mehrauli mandi is a permanent one and since the vendors live in the same area, its practically a 24hour market.What will happen to them? Will they have to relocate their entire families to Ghazipur? Will they get land to live? At the Mehrauli mandi, the entire family is involved in the stringing of the garlands, will they all be able to commute daily to Ghazipur?

Will these flower sellers be able to cope with the displacement? Will they lose their livelihood?

These markets are a part of the heritage of Delhi, why banish them? Is this a myopic decision? Have all factors been considered or is it just another act lumped under the "sanitising Delhi for the Common Wealth Games" banner?

Roses are available at 50paise in these markets. By the time it reaches you at the traffic light, they cost Rs5 each. By the time it reaches your florist it costs about 10Rs each. How much do you think the price will increase with the increased distance and time taken to travel to Ghazipur for both the seller and the buyer?

The Hanuman Mandir Mandi is supposed to be the largest flower market in India. all the large hotels and banquet halls pick up their flowers from here. Who will they pass the price increase onto?

Its true these markets tend to create a bit of a mess, especially the Mehrauli one. But wouldn't it be better to try and find a way to regularise these markets and waste disposal, than to summarily and unilaterally move them away?

The Gendha Phool Project is trying to bring awareness, help the flower sellers find options to recycle their waste (gulal from unsold flowers) and explore legal options. There is another walk coming up this weekend if you are interested to join.

Carry drinking water and a hat/umbrella/sunglasses and your camera. Its a wonderful experience.

My picture album is uploaded on Facebook. There are just too many pictures for me to choose just some for this post. So take a look at the album.

And to whet your appetite . . .
A Bit of the Market that I brought home with me.

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