Once tony marketplaces where people loved to shop or watch movies, Basant Lok, Anupam complex and Ansal Plaza have fallen on hard times, edged out by malls. Ruhi Bhasin finds out what went wrong and what these markets are doing to survive
Before the advent of malls, Delhi’s brand and fashion-conscious flocked to Basant Lok or Anupam complex, Saket, to shop or just catch a movie at PVR Priya or PVR Anupam. Over the years, however, the footfalls in these once-tony marketplaces have drastically fallen, especially during summer, as people nowadays prefer spic-and-span, air-conditioned malls over markets with deteriorating infrastructure. ‘To-let’ signs are visible in both these markets, which look deserted during weekdays. But the market associations of both Basant Lok and Anupam complex, Saket, are optimistic, saying if the markets near the Ansal Plaza mall can survive, there is still hope for them. The Ansal Plaza mall might have been one of the first to open in Delhi but, much like these markets, has seen a steady decline over the years with office spaces taking over merchandise shops.
Once counted among the upmarket shopping addresses in the city, the 40-year-old Basant Lok community centre has seen a 50 per cent decline in footfalls in the last few years, the market association admits. The reasons attributed for this range from collapsing infrastructure to opening of three malls in nearby Vasant Kunj. Punjabi By Nature, a popular restaurant here, has shut down and has put up boards announcing its relocation to Ambience Mall, Vasant Kunj. Manchester United Cafe also shut down some time ago. ‘To-let’ signs can be seen all over the market.
“The high-street concept is still a viable business model. South Extension survived despite Ansal Plaza. The problem here is complete civic apathy. Right from sweeping of the marketplace to ensuring proper street-lighting, everything is taken care of by the market association. There has been talk of redevelopment of this community centre but nothing has happened so far. The footfalls have gone down by 50 per cent,” Kapil Das, owner of Citi Shoppe and a member of the market association,