Home to 80 traders, every house in Velampeta is a successful enterprise

The dusty, crowded lanes of Velampeta and its old houses perched precariously close to one another give a picture of an era that is in stark contrast to the city’s other localities growing at a fast pace.

Here, it is practically impossible to drive a car. The narrow lanes leading to the houses have barely enough space for a two-wheeler to squeeze through. To get a feel of this old locality of the city, one has to set out by foot.

But what is unique about Velampeta is a character that no other locality of the city has.

This is the place to learn the nuances of business — a place where the city’s wholesale business blossomed more than three decades ago. A tour around the five streets of Velampeta throws open several stories of successful enterprises.

Now a home to about 80 traders, the crammed lanes of Velampeta come to life from the early hours of the day. And the modest houses that dot the streets are each a hub of full-fledged wholesale business.

What once used to be the heart of the city, the locality now lies in one corner, with the city expanding to other areas over a period of time. Nearly 50 per cent of the original residents of Velampeta have moved to other localities of the city.

But the ones who stayed behind believe that they have a strong reason.

The penchant to take forward the family’s wholesale textile business kept Chandmal Agarwal’s family rooted to the colony despite several civic issues. The business that was launched by his father in the 1980s kept the family together.

“This is the biggest wholesale business centre of the city. If we had moved out of this place, monitoring our businesses closely wouldn’t have been so easy. Today, retailers from various parts of the district come here till late in the night to pick up supplies, and we are able to attend to them since we live right above our store,” said Mr. Agarwal.

Right from textile merchants, wholesale grocers to hardware dealers, the wholesale businesses have been growing in the area over the past three decades.

The colony has a mix of communities and religions. Telugus, Marwaris, Jains, and Muslims — all live here in perfect harmony. And the familiar faces and friendly bonds have held back many from moving away from this place. Even after his family moved to the posh locality of Pandurangapuram, Hathiram Sethia Jain continues to spend most of his time in his old house at Velampeta.

Once a wholesale-cum-retail tea powder business merchant, Mr. Jain is now living a peaceful retired life with the company of his old friends of the locality.

“Here, we know everybody. In fact, the colony is so safe that many times we don’t even lock our houses when we go to the neighbourhood,” said Mr. Jain.

But what ails the wholesale business market of Velampeta is the lack interest of the younger generation in carrying forward the business. “The next generation is not keen on being bounded by the family business. Most of them have moved out of the city for work,” said B. Subramanyam, a resident of Velampeta, who runs a wholesale business of red chilli.

Many apprehend that like the changing face of any old locality of a city, the true character of Velampeta may vanish over the next two decades.

A handful of flats have come up in the area in a short span of four to five years. While real estate rates have sky-rocketed in other neighbouring localities, here the rate is Rs.2,000 per square feet.

This is largely to do with the lack of basic infrastructure and acute water logging problems that haunts the residents for several years now.

The Indira Priyadarshini Municipal Stadium, that once hosted international cricket matches, is also located in Velampeta. But today, the resounding silence of the place and the slums and poor drainage system surrounding it paint a picture of neglect.

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