-By Jaideep Sarin
Chandigarh, March 8 Thousands of people may have driven out of Chandigarh’s Sunday car bazaar with their newly-acquired possessions in the past three decades, but the well-known used car market of the region is still looking to park itself in a permanent space to carry out its business.
Car dealers operating from the parking space of the Sector 7 market on Madhya Marg (central street), the city’s busiest of roads, are opposing a move by local authorities to auction sites for the Sunday car market.
The car dealers have made it clear that they will neither allow the auction of parking space nor will participate in it till the Chandigarh Administration provides them a suitable and permanent site to ply their trade.
From the basic Maruti 800s to the flashy BMWs, Mercedes, Audis and Pajeros, the Sunday car bazaar has nearly 1,000 vehicles on sale. Every week, over 100 used cars are sold by the 43 dealers operating from there.
The Sunday car bazaar, touted to be among the biggest in northern India, attracts hundreds of cars and buyers from the region comprising Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh. Held only on Sundays, it sees a lot of business happening.
On week days, the area is used for parking vehicles whose owners either visit the market or have their offices there.
“Many car dealers have been running their business from the same site for the past nearly 30 years. The authorities should either allot us a permanent site or we will continue our business from here itself,” Gulshan Kumar, president of the Car Bazaar Dealer Association, told IANS.
“The traders have worked hard to establish the car bazaar, which has now become the biggest bazaar of north India. Now the MC (municipal corporation) wants to throw out the traders, some of whom are 60 or 70 years old. This is unjustified and cruel,” Gulshan Kumar contended.
The second hand car dealers are opposing the move by the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation to auction the parking sites for the Sunday car bazaar. Nearly 60 sites are proposed to be auctioned.
But the corporation thinks differently.
“Since the auction amount will eat into the profit margins of the car dealers, they are making all this noise. They were using the public parking space free of cost for so many years. Only a few years back, they were levied a charge for doing commercial activity from the area. They should now buy the sites in the auction,” a senior municipal corporation officer, requesting anonymity, told IANS.
The car dealers were levied a fee by the local authorities over a decade back for using public parking space for commercial purposes. The Sunday car bazaar dealers now pay over Rs.60 lakh to the corporation annually for their commercial activity.
Owners of showrooms in the market had approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking that the car bazaar be shifted elsewhere as it was affecting their businesses, besides leading to parking chaos.
In 2009, the Chandigarh Administration had identified a five-acre plot of land in Chandigarh’s Hallomajra area for shifting the car bazaar. However, most dealers had refused to move from the Sector 7 site, which is in the heart of the city, to the new site saying that it would affect their business.