Fed up with the vendors cutting into their profits, and authorities' refusal to take action, the shopkeepers in the Laxmi Nagar market have started hiring professional guards. MCD, on the other hand, claims it's a nexus

Shopkeepers at Laxmi Nagar main market have one more reason to be concerned about safety procedures this time. Apparently, with the increasing encroachment by local vendors, shopkeepers have been hiring guards to deal with the problem.

A view of Laxmi Nagar main market in New Delhi on Friday

Such scenes can often be witnessed at the Vijay Chowk, main market, Laxmi Nagar, which is one of the busiest markets of east Delhi. One can easily identify people standing outside the shops, not allowing vendors to stand.

According to the shopkeepers, the vendors do not listen to them, and to get rid of them, they either have to take the help of the relatives or hire professional guards.

"We are left with no other option. Despite asking them politely and trying all other ways, they are not ready to listen to us. Now, due to this decision, many of them have stopped occupying the space," said Kamal Sharma, one of the shopkeepers, main market Laxmi Nagar.

Members of the Laxmi Nagar Traders' Association are also upset because of the vendors and blame the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and Delhi police for not taking any action.

No action
"We have been complaining about the issue for the last so many years. This problem is not at all new. Shopkeepers have been suffering badly due to this. Some of the vendors stand almost in the middle of the road, leading to huge traffic jams.
The situation is even more chaotic on Tuesday, when the local market is set-up here. The condition of traffic is so bad that it's hard to enter the main market, and almost impossible to bring any vehicle on the road.

The vendors put up their stalls almost in the middle of the road, leading to huge traffic jams. Pic/Subhash Barolia

In fact, many of the stalls have encroached upon the roads as well. We have been running from pillar to post in order to get this problem solved, but the authorities refuse to help us," said Parduman Jain, President, Laxmi Nagar Traders' Association.

Shopkeepers also complain about the weekly Tuesday market. According to them, their sales drop by 50 per cent as their shops are almost  fully covered by vendors that day.

"The situation is worst on Tuesday. Our sales go down by almost 50 per cent. Local vendors, vegetables and fruit sellers are all over the place. It's hard for people to identify our shops. Now if they cannot see our shop, how will they come to us?" rued Ramesh Aggarwal, another shopkeeper, main market, Laxmi Nagar.

The officials, on the other hand, are blaming the shopkeepers themselves for the menace "These shopkeepers are also responsible for the vendor menace.

Many of them allow the vendors to stand outside their shops and charge money from them. If they are happy charging money from the vendors, why are they complaining about it?" asked one of the MCD officials on the condition of anonymity.

The other side
B B Tyagi, Councillor, Laxmi Nagar, said "Till date we have not received any official complaint regarding the matter. Still, we are trying to solve the problem.

I visit the market area every week and try to settle the issues. Every time I go there, I request all vendors to stand somewhere else and not in front of the shops.
We are trying to find a permanent solution to this problem. We have also identified a few areas that are totally vacant, and vendors can stand there."