Political flux has cost Delhi’s third ‘haat’ a formal inauguration. The Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation (DTTDC) is all set to start operating the haat in Janakpuri this Thursday. The Raag Rang music fest by the various language academies of the Art, Culture and Language Department is also scheduled to take place at the venue from May 29 to June 1.

Surprisingly, the news of the soft launch has primarily been publicised by former Congress councillor Sanjay Puri and not the government. Mr. Puri had lobbied for a cultural hub for North and West Delhi since 2002 and was instrumental in getting land and funds allotted for the project.

“Finally, our efforts have paid off and Delhi’s biggest haat in Janakpuri will become the city’s hub of culture,” he told The Hindu.

Spread over eight acres, the haat will have 231 shops and parking for more than 400 vehicles. It will also have an auditorium and amphitheatre, each with a seating capacity of 800. An exposition hall of 10,000 square feet is also getting ready.

“The handicrafts shops and food stalls from various States will be opened at the soft launch,” said DTTDC general manager Ravi Daddich. “The entire haat is not ready yet. The formal inauguration will be held later when the auditorium, the fine dining, banquet hall and food chains floor are ready,” he added.

A senior Tourism Department official confirmed that the inauguration had been scheduled for May 26.

“It was deferred due to the swearing in [of the new government at the Centre]. The Lieutenant-Governor [Najeeb Jung] does not want an inauguration until the new [union] government takes office. The inauguration will be discussed after the situation settles.”

The Rs.81.44-crore project is a joint venture between the Union Ministry of Tourism, the Delhi Government, the DTTDC and the Delhi Development Authority. It remained in the works since 2002 until former Chief Minister Sheila Dixit laid its foundation in 2011. The area was previously DDA’s pipeline store and the project was planned around existing trees instead of cutting them down.

The haat has four concrete towers covered with glass and bamboo. Creepers have been planted so as to gradually create a green envelope around these towers. Although the panelling has motifs of musical instruments, plans for a music store and library — as envisaged at the inception — are still on the drawing board, Mr. Daddich said. “We are thinking about how to make this work out since most music is now online.”

The Tilak Nagar Metro station on the blue line is the closest station and the Hari Nagar bus depot is also close by.

A ‘sherbet festival’ and a ‘mango growers’ conference’ have also been planned in the coming weeks.

A source claimed that artistes like singer Daler Mehndi, Chhattisgarh’s Pandavani folk singer and Padma Bhushan awardee Teejan Bai and Britain’s Malkit Singh have been contacted for the Raag Rang festival.

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