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Effigy market: All's not well in the land of Ravana

Effigy market: AllEffigy market: All’s not well in the land of Ravana
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The effigies are getting ready for the big day, ready to be shipped to all corners of the Delhi-NCR region, and Ravana heads line up in a queue, but...

New Delhi : The effigies are getting ready for the big day, ready to be shipped to all corners of the Delhi-NCR region, and Ravana heads line up in a queue, but the festive excitement is missing this Dussehra.

Crammed, dimly lit and far away from the main road, the effigy market in west Delhi's Subhash Nagar was relocated from the bustling Titarpur village near the Tagore Garden Metro station in 2018. But business – and life – have taken a battering with no amenities being provided, say the artisans.

Believed to be one of the largest of its kind in Asia, the Titarpur market would be its busiest a few days before Dussehra, with massive Ravana heads lined up on the road. Now, the effigy makers occupy what are essentially two unkempt grounds, with only tall grass in the name of a workplace.

There's no water, no electricity and no sanitation facilities either, said the artisans, who leave their round-the-year low-paying jobs ahead of the festive season to make some extra cash by making and selling effigies.

Though busy giving final touches to the replicas of the tall and mighty ten-headed Ravana, and his brothers Kumbhkaran and Meghnad, the uncertainty of taking back home a decent income is evident from their faces. The artisans are mainly daily wage labourers from Rajasthan, Haryana and Bihar.

"When we shifted, the authorities promised us basic amenities like sanitation, water and electricity. Now here we are making effigies in a place worse then a jungle," said Mahendra Ravanawalla, as he wrapped the bamboo frame with old sarees. Instead of earning money, they actually end up spending Rs 300-400 every day from their own pockets to arrange for drinking water.

"The few lights that can be seen here are also installed by us, for which we spent over Rs 2,000," said Ravanawalla, who has been making effigies for the last 45 years.

When asked about the lack of facilities needed for the proper functioning of the market, a South Delhi Municipal Corporation spokesperson refused to comment. Two years ago, the SDMC alleged that the artisans were encroaching on public land and blamed the effigies on the pavements for traffic jams in the area.

After the Delhi High Court's intervention, the SDMC last year identified the two spaces in Subhash Nagar for the artisans to make the effigies at a charge of Rs 1.50 per square feet per month.

This is the second year of the market's new home. Orders come in not just from the Delhi-NCR region but also from Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and even abroad.

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