One of the flyovers will require construction work in Shilparamam, resulting in temporary closure of the art village as well as demolition of around 200 stalls.

300 shops in Telangana art village face temporary closure thanks to a road projectFile Photo
news News Thursday, June 22, 2017 - 16:21

Thirty one-year-old Santoshi Das, a native of Puri in Odisha, owns a stall of wooden items and palm leaf paintings. She seems busy with a register and a calculator. 

“I calculate every day how much we made by selling these items. But this register is different. This register contains how many more articles we have. We are trying to sell most of the items before we shift back to Odisha,” she told The News Minute. 

Santoshi, like 290 other artisans and shop owners who have businesses in Shilparamam - an art village in Madhapur, will be largely affected due to its temporary closure.

Under the Strategic Road Development Plan (SRDP), the Telangana government plans to construct multi-layer flyovers over 20 key junctions in the city. One of the flyovers will require construction work in Shilparamam, resulting in temporary closure of the art village. 

“What other option do we have, other than going back to Odisha. There is no clarity on how long the construction work will go on. They might say that the construction will take five to six months, but we do not know, it might take a year,” says Santoshi. 

She estimates a loss of nearly Rs.5 lakh, due to the closure. 

The art village has already received a letter from Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) asking them to hand over the land so that the construction work can be started. 

“They sent the letter a few weeks back, but we have verbally requested them to conduct a meeting with the officials of Shilparamam. We want to discuss the work and from where they will start the work, so that we can consider relocating the stalls. We are even planning to request them to complete the work within three months,” said a senior official in Shilparamam. 

According to the official, the flyover will be passing through 1.75 acres of land inside the art village, which is where all the stalls are located currently. 

“As the flyover is passing through the entry and exit points of the village, for a brief period we will have to keep it closed, but nearly 200 stalls will be demolished due to the construction, as a major chunk of it is falling in that area,” the official added. 

Currently Shilparamam consists of nearly 300 stalls, which provide employment to over 3000 people. 

“Two days back, a few officials from GHMC came and marked some of the places. They might start the work soon. I have been here for the past 10 years, it has become almost like home. But during this construction period, I will have to go home, as we do not know how much time it will take,” says Mohammad Irfan, who owns a handloom shop and is a resident of Srinagar. 

Irfan says that now they are paying Rs. 8000 for the stall every month, but if the place shuts down, he would have to look for a rented shop which will cost him more than Rs. 2 lakh including the deposit. 

“Here, people come not just for shopping but for the ambience of the place. It is not known as a market, it is an art village. We make our own items and sell them here, so they are inexpensive and authentic. Why would anyone want to demolish even a part of this village. There is no point asking these questions because who will listen to our plight?” says Irfan. 

Shilparamam not only consists of markets but also provides an environment for the preservation of traditional crafts and culture. It consists of a large area covered in greenery, where several cultural programmes are also carried out. 

“It is not a market, it is a craft village. The shop owners are not usual vendors, they are certified by the development commissioner of handicraft and handloom. There are craftsmen from everywhere- Rajasthan, Odisha, Kashmir, Gujarat, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra and Telangana. This place was created to revive the forgotten traditions. We have a pottery hut, where the potters demonstrate their skill and the same is for weavers. We even conduct classes to teach these skills,” explains the senior official. 

However, the closure of the village will not only affect the craftsmen but also disturb the traditional ambience, which is the main concept behind Shilparamam. 

Suhail, who makes different sets of furnitures, jewellery boxes and lamps hails from Uttar Pradesh. He has been staying in Hyderabad and working in Shilparamam for over a decade. 

“I have a daughter and my wife is pregnant. Initially we decided that we will not have more kids after my daughter was born, but the earning has been going good, so we planned for a son. Now, I am worried that if I have to close shop for a year, how will we survive. They have not announced any compensation for the stall owners. They should know that it will be hard for us to start a new shop all over again,” he rues. 

The official said that this will be a temporary closure and till then, the stall owners could be relocated. However, it depends on where the construction will start from. 

He also told TNM that land inside Shilparamam will consist of pillars of two flyovers which would connect Gachibowli, JNTU, Madhapur and Kondapur.

TNM contacted GHMC officials, however, the officer concerned was not available for comment.