Emphasising that fuelling consumption was necessary for economic growth, Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, who also holds the finance portfolio, on Saturday announced the revamp of the traditional iconic marketplaces in the city, weeks-long shopping festivals, incentives to traders and development of premium shopping spaces in the capital.
Sisodia said that Delhi is a city of ‘reputed markets’, which have always been the pride of this city and Delhi’s goods are trusted by the consumers. “Our traditional iconic markets need redevelopment in infrastructure and other facilities. They have the potential that if there is a slight increase in the business here then lakhs of new jobs can be created,” Sisodia said.
Delhi has 350,000 retail shops that employ 750,000 people and cater to people living in 150-200 km radius around the city, according to government data.
According to Sisodia, the government will initially redevelop five traditional markets as ‘model business hubs’ to improve shopping experience for which ₹100 crore have been allocated. He added that the initiative will create 150,000 jobs over the next five years.
In line with the all the state budgets announced since 2015 when the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) came to power in Delhi, this year too the government fixed a theme for the document. This year it was Rozgar (employment).
The government will also organise Delhi shopping festival every year for which ₹250 crore have been provided. “The festival will be organised to invite people from the country and the world to shop in Delhi and to experience it as a festival. More people who come to the city for shopping, the faster the economy of Delhi will grow and new jobs will be created,” the minister argued.
With three key components– shopping, entertainment and food– the Delhi shopping festival will be a 4-6 weeks long affair with discounts for consumers and the government will provide incentives to traders by giving them SGST tax refunds. “It will have an impact on the lives of 12 lakh people employed in these sectors, expected to increase the business by at least 25%,” the minister stated.
A separate ‘wholesale shopping festival on the lines of similar festival held in the Yiwu City of Zhejiang in China is also on cards as the government estimates that 60% of the business in Delhi is done in wholesale markets.
An online shopping portal– “Delhi Bazaar” will also be developed at the cost of ₹20 crore where retail shopping outlets will be allowed to operate at “zero setup cost” to traders.
Sanjay Bhargava, who heads the Chandni Chowk Sarv Vyapar Mandal said that the announcements will help realise the long standing demands by the city traders, but added that the real benefits of the efforts will depend on how they will be implemented on the ground. “Revamping markets and the shopping festivals will help the markets become cultural and business centres. But the ₹100 crore budget announced for five markets is too little. Chandni Chowk revamp alone has taken ₹140 cr and the project is still a work in progress. The wholesale festivals should be organized in open area not the congested walled city,” Bhargava said.
The Gandhi Nagar market in east Delhi, which is the largest wholesale garments market, will be rebranded as ‘Grand Garment Hub’ in the field of readymade garments textile, Sisodia said. A readymade garments market, Gandhi Nagar has a daily turnover of more than ₹100 crore and it generates 100,000 direct and nearly 200,000 indirect employment opportunities. “The market requires legal recognition, infrastructure redevelopment, construction of new service centres and re-branding, marketing and re-positioning. This project is expected to create more than 40,000 new employment opportunities in the next five years,” Sisodia said.
With an estimated 3,000 shops, the wholesale cloth market has workshops and factories operating in residential areas of east Delhi areas like Shahadra, Seelampur, Gandhi Nagar, Mustafabad, Shiv Vihar and others.
Hukum Chand Gupta, who heads Wholesale Readymade Garments Market Association at Gandhi Nagar, said the idea of developing the unplanned market as garments hub is good, but added that it will require a combination of infrastructure redevelopment as well as financial incentives. “A lot of garments markets were linked with the supply chain of Gandhi Nagar but Covid pandemic has disrupted the whole ecosystem as many regional local hubs have developed in other states over the last two years. The project will require financial incentives, tax breaks as well as regularization of factories where the products are made,” Gupta said.
Citing lack of “a huge shortage of malls in Delhi in the retail sector”, the government has proposed to develop Grade A Retail and Food Hub facilities and premium shopping spaces in the land available in bus depots and terminals.
Sisodia reasoned that Delhi has only one mall per 2 million people and mall space availability is currently 6 times more in the NCR.
Atul Bhargava, who heads New Delhi Traders Association, said that the focus on rejuvenating retail and market spaces will only lead to fruition if the market associations and the local stakeholders in the markets are made stakeholders. “In the past, we have seen several redevelopment plans leading to wastage of money as no consultation was carried out. Traders understand the needs of the market and the same amount of money can be used much more effectively if people on ground are consulted,” he added.