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Gong! Restored 72-year-old Kamla market clock tower starts ticking again | Latest News Delhi

New Delhi: The 72-year-old clock tower located at Kamla Market, near New Delhi Railway Station, has been restored, and the clock has started ticking again after several decades, municipal officials associated with the project said on Friday.

The clock tower located at Kamla Market near the New Delhi Railway Station has been restored and the clock has started ticking again after several decades. (Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)

The tower has been repaired, repainted, flex boards installed on the structure have been removed and its original four clocks have been made functional, the officials said.

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The market was set up to provide livelihood to Partition refugees who settled in Delhi, and was inaugurated by former president Dr Rajendra Prasad on November 26, 1951. The same year the clock tower was also installed there.

Officials added that the larger project to restore the crumbling structures in the market is still in progress.

Lakhwir Singh, vice president of the Kamla market traders association, whose family has been running a shop there since 1960, said the clock tower was maintained by the market association till 1995. Then, the local mechanic who used to maintain the clock passed away. “It has remained non-functional for almost three decades but its original machine is intact. We are glad that the heritage has been restored,” Singh said.

He added that just like the old days, the clock chimes to mark every hour. “If it is 6 O’clock, the gong sounds six times. Its like being transported back to the old days. MCD has also added electric lines or lights?? to the tower, and the plaster has been repaired. The market revamp is pending but 15 traders have taken the initiative by starting repair of their own shops,” he added. The market has 271 shops and 1,500 workers who operate as craftsmen, porters and mechanics.

An MCD official said that the LG VK Saxena had inspected the market on February 23 directing the agencies to take several remedial measures including the restoration of the clocktower. “The clock tower has been restored in first phase and the larger plan includes repair work in the market,” the official added requesting anonymity.

HT had reported on March 15 that the 72-year-old market and the clock tower was lying in poor shape, and that MCD had drawn up a plan to redevelop the market.

Kamla market was developed in the shape of two concentric horseshoes on the lines of Connaught Place. Traders say that originally, the market had restaurants, grocery shops, and ice cream parlours. However, the market failed to attract shoppers. In 1960s workers from the Shraddhanand Market, which is located across the road, moved. These traders began making metal cases, cabinets and metalware. Between 1970s and 80s, most shops here started selling desert air coolers. The market was named after Kamala Nehru — wife of the first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru — became one of the biggest desert air cooler markets in the country.

Delhi has several functional clock towers — at Sabzi Mandi area in North Delhi, Hari Nagar in west Delhi and one inside the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The city’s oldest clock tower, Northbrook Clock Tower, used to be at the centre of Chandni Chowk, right outside the old Town Hall. It was demolished after Independence after it partially collapsed in 1950. The Municipal Corporation allocated 2 lakh in 1957 for rebuilding the structure. But, but the tower was a relic from the British Raj was never rebuilt.

Officials from MCD’s architecture department have prepared a plan to beautify the market by building a common facade, along with common patterns of signage for all shops. In March, the corporation invited bids for 25.3 lakh project which involved general repair, the clock tower facelift, repair of boundary walls and grilles and development of a new toilet block. The larger project of uplifting the market is likely to cost 1.2 crore.

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