Traders, residents behind G20 festivity in Delhi’s Walled City | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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Traders, residents behind G20 festivity in Delhi’s Walled City

Sep 10, 2023 08:43 PM IST

Residents and traders said they were compelled to decorate the Walled City themselves, claiming a “lackadaisical attitude” by authorities

Several parts of Delhi have been decked up for the ongoing G20 Summit, with lights, fountains, floral arrangements, and banners welcoming delegates. However, the decorations at the Walled City are slightly different — they have all been undertaken by residents and traders in the area.

Decorations at Jama Masjid in Delhi. (Arvind Yadav/HT Photo)
Decorations at Jama Masjid in Delhi. (Arvind Yadav/HT Photo)

The beautification of the Walled City included streets were lined by umbrellas and floral garlands, while fountains and tricolour lighting draped the entrance of the Jama Masjid — a sight that the delegates from Turkey enjoyed during their visit on Friday evening, spending 40-45 minutes inside the mosque.

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“They were also made aware of the mosque’s history,” a police officer part of the security detail said, adding that their visit was facilitated by the Delhi Tourist Police.

Residents and traders said they were compelled to decorate the Walled City themselves, claiming a “lackadaisical attitude” by authorities towards beautifying the area.

“Due to G20, the entire city has been beautified. Fountains have been placed across the Capital and the city has been decked up in lights. However, Old Delhi was not given adequate attention. Since it was sidelined by all agencies, we shopkeepers decided to spruce up the area ourselves. Just like in other parts of Delhi, we have installed a fountain. We have decked up the streets in tri colours and made floral decorations. Through these small efforts, we wanted to ensure that visitors go back with a good impression of our country and culture,” said Haji Salimuddin, president of the Bazar Matia Mahal Shopkeepers Association, who also lives in the area.

Sanjay Bhargava, president of the Chandni Chowk Sarv Vyapar Mandal, a traders’ body, said, “Old Delhi has been totally ignored. They have totally lost an opportunity to preserve and highlight the area’s heritage and iconic sights.”

M Nafis, a social activist and Lal Kuan resident, said that Old Delhi is synonymous with Red Fort and Jama Masjid, but efforts were not undertaken to make the area G20-ready. “Old Delhi is a historical place but neither was it decorated nor other efforts taken to pitch it as the cultural corner of the city,” said Nafis.

Salimuddin said shopkeepers collectively funded the entire exercise, and no help of any kind was extended by various government agencies. “As citizens of India, we took it up as a responsibility and want visiting delegates to appreciate our country,” he said.

HT reached out to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), but officials in the civic body did not respond to requests for a comment on the allegations by the traders and residents.

Delhi minister Saurabh Bharadwaj, at a press conference on September 6, had said that MCD had undertaken a facelifting exercise at the Town Hall and at Mirza Ghalib’s haveli in Ballimaran.

Residents and traders, however, said only last-minute exercises were undertaken.

“Barring minor cosmetic clean-ups, they have done nothing. At the Town Hall, they have installed a huge board with moving imagery that mars the view of the heritage structure. Encroachments and littering continue to be a major problem,” said Bhargava.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Sadia Akhtar is a reporter at Hindustan Times where she covers education, heritage, and a range of feature stories. She also writes about refugee communities and tracks stories at the intersection of gender and social justice. Before joining HT's Delhi team, she reported from Gurugram and Mewat where she tracked politics, education, and heritage.

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