Work in progress on the market coming up in Action Area 1B. Picture by Bhubaneswarananda Halder
Every Sunday morning, Sayantan Das has to drive 7km from his home in Hiland Woods in New Town’s Action Area 2 to Salt Lake’s CK market to buy a week’s supply of fish. Dhrubo Dey, who lives in Millennium Tower in Action Area 1, has to either drive about 2km to Axis Mall to purchase groceries from a branded outlet or depend on illegal stalls that have come up near New Town police station.
Das, Dey and thousands of other New Town residents may not have to waste so much time and energy on procuring groceries, meat and fish from next year. About 12 years after work began on the township and seven years after people started moving in, work has finally begun on block markets.
Hidco, the administrative authority of New Town, started building two community markets in Action Area 1, where close to 10,000 people live, about two weeks ago. There are plans to set up three markets in each sector of the three action areas.
One of the markets is coming up in Action Area 1A, behind New Town police station, near the DLF cluster, on a 21-cottah plot. The other is coming up in Action Area 1B, near the bus terminus known as The Terminus, on a 13-cottah plot. The projects are expected to be completed in a year.
“Some high-end retail brands have set up shop in New Town but that does not seem enough. Community markets are essential. We are in the process of identifying more locations to build community markets,” said Debasish Sen, chairman, Hidco.
“We have realised that no amount of development will attract people to a township unless we provide basic facilities like markets. Residents cannot be expected to travel several kilometres to purchase things of daily use,” said an official of New Town Calcutta Development Authority, which looks after civic services in the township and is developing the markets.
The ground floors of the market will have shops selling perishable and non-perishable goods, including vegetables, fish and meat. The rest of the market will have convenience stores and shops for other things necessary in a household,” said an official of the authority.
Residents feel the markets are long overdue. “It is impossible to survive in New Town if you do not own a car as the markets and convenience stores are too far away,” said Das, who is forced to schedule his shopping trips depending on the availability of the one car the family owns.
“People had moved into Salt Lake after the markets came up. It is the opposite in New Town. A lot of people are not moving into the township because of the absence of basic facilities like markets and transport,” said Sandip Raha, who has been living in Action Area 1 since 2005. He buys groceries once a week from Salt Lake’s CK Market.
The residents had held many meetings with Hidco officials to stress the need for markets. “We requested them not to make the markets upscale so that prices do not go up because of overhead costs,” said Raha.
“Expression of interest for building the other markets will be invited soon,” said a Hidco official.
Sen also said Hidco would open eight-nine Mother Dairy booths across New Town. The first booth was inaugurated last month.