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Tibetan market opens after flooding, but still deserted

September 16, 2010

September 15, 2010

New Delhi -- The normally busy Tibetan market in
northeast Delhi bustling with college students
looking to buy things at dirt cheap prices was
deserted Wednesday. After a weekend of flooding
from the Yamuna river, shops have reopened, but
pools of stagnant water bear testimony to the nightmare it was.

"The Yamuna water was released Friday evening and
the last weekend was a nightmare. With all the
shops closed and the houses submerged, this
year's Eid came as a shock for us,' said Kunga
Tashi, vice president of the Refugee Market Association.

"It was a second Saturday followed by a Sunday
which usually makes people flock to the market,
giving high sales - but it was shut as water reached our shops.'

The shops sell a wide variety of goods, from
clothes to footwear to bags and accessories.

The area is mostly populated by Tibetan refugees
and is also known as the monastery market due to
the presence of a Buddhist shrine there.

There are 64 stalls lining the road that stand on
high platforms, but the water entered inside
after the authorities Friday released water from
the nearby Yamuna as the river was overflowing.

The area has 144 more brick shops located within
a complex and these still bear traces of dirty
water. The monastery behind the stalls is still waterlogged.

According to residents and shopkeepers,
waterlogging took place in the first week of this
month as well and shops were closed for a day.
Pumps were installed to take the water out, but
the muck and dirt it left behind had to be cleared by residents.

"It was difficult to wade through knee-deep
water, our houses were flooded, there was no
electricity since Friday, it came Monday night,
the children could not play or even go outside,
daily chores became a mammoth task. The aged
suffered more as they had to climb upstaris when
our houses were flooded," shopkeeper and resident Shih told IANS.

There are around 45 families that live behind the
monastery market at Taradevi Colony and most of
them are scared to remember the three days of flooding of their houses.

"Around three to four houses were submerged and
people living there have taken shelter elsewhere.
The water has receded, but they haven't returned
for fear of another flooding. Most residents are
expecting another round of water to be released
on days of heavy rain," added Tashi.

According to Tashi, the Municipal Corporation Of
Delhi has been carrying out fumigation in the
area since Monday to check mosquitoes.

Ngawang, a 30-year-old resident and shopkeeper,
said: "The three days of flooding and dirty
stagnant water could result in water-borne
diseases. With dengue making headlines everyday,
it has just added to our worries. There is still
stagnant water in the monastery."

A lodge exists in the vicinity for "newcomers" -
the term for people coming from Tibet and Nepal.
The basement of the two-storey building, with
around 100 beds, is still under water.

According to residents, at the time of the
flooding there were around 8-10 people residing
in the guesthouse and they have now taken refuge on the second floor.

'We are thinking of draining out all the water
from the monastery first and then starting the work on the lodge,' said Tashi.

Many of the shopkeepers in the monastery market
also reside in the nearby Majnu Ka Tila, opposite
the Inter-State Bus Terminus, and similar flooding took place there too.

"For three days, we were virtually under house
arrest, sitting on terraces. There are many of us
who have put all our things in neighbouring
houses that are two-storeyed. Though the shops
have opened, we have still not resumed work. I am
tired of this constant fear of flooding," said a
shopkeeper who lives in Majnu Ka Tila.

This area has some 65 Tibetan families that was
equally affected by the release of Yamuna water.

The shopkeepers of the Tibetan market have little
choice but to hope for better business in the coming weekend.
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