BY Abdul hafiz lakhani Ahmedabad
Gujarat, Ahmedabad and the largest Muslim ghetto of Asia Juhapura is always remembered for the wrong reasons, thanks to our biased and so called secular mainstream media in connection with infamous riots of 2002. Actually in the past this largest Muslim concentration has many positive stories but unluckily it did not find the place in the public consciousness but now the corporate world has focused its eyes on Juhapura. It is a ghetto with five lakh Muslims living in the area.
The report that two malls are being planned near Juhapura junction is an invitation to reflection. Let us break stereotypes and understand that major surveys show that as a community, Muslims spend the most on shopping and entertainment.
Sociologists also realize that Muslims in Gujarat are still a ghettoised community, especially after 2002 riots. The question now is whether we are confronting a new experiment where desire and consumption negate the reality of ghettoisation? Will the location of the two malls redefine Juhapura from a solely ethnic space to a new definition in urban conviviality?
Today, shopping is a major sport and our malls have become places for informal meetings and family outings. Malls have also become museums of desire where people visit them not to buy but to touch and look. The Juhapura experiment will be watched with great expectation.
Now, Ahmedabad’s horizon is set o expand to keep up with the changing lifestyle of its people. And developers and retailers are making a beeline to areas that till now were largely neglected. Two malls are being planned near the Juhapura junction. One is a joint venture between the Chauhan Group and Himalaya Mall, while the other is project of the Radhe Group. Both projects will begin construction in the next two months.
A plot of 25,000-27,000 sq ft had earlier been purchased for the Chauhan-Himalaya jv , which will be a mall- cum- hotel near Vishala hotel. Kunwar Harji Chauhan of the Chauhan group, which is part of the hospitality and real estate industry said, “Juhapura is considered the biggest ghetto in Asia and not surprisingly so far, no malls or multiplexes are seen here.” “The mall will benefit not just Juhapura Muslims but also some other Hindu areas surrounding it”, he added.
A survey by the Future Group’s Big Bazaar had found that comparatively, the Muslims community spends the most on shopping and entertainment, he added.
Managing director of Himalaya Mall Kamlesh Modi said, “The areas near Juhapura do not have any modern facilities and no mall can be found in a 3-km radius. The project therefore fills the gap.” “However, we are still in talks with the company for starting the project”, he added. The mall will have four floors excluding the ground floor. The project will also include a banquet hall and a three star residential hotel.
Olympus, the Radhe Group project, is expected to be an eight -lakhs sq ft property, which would house a discount mall and a budget hotel. The mall, spread across half the project will house a 12 screen multiplex, gaming zone and food court.
Construction for the project is expected to begin in near future. “The specialty of the mall would be discounts offered, which will range from 25�75% and it will be on reputed brands,” said Rahul Mehra, project consultant.
The projected cost for the Olympus project is Rs 65 crores excluding the cost of land. Construction is scheduled to take about 18 months, MD of Radhe Infrastructure Ltd, Ashish Patel revealed. “We are going to start the project soon, and we will decide whom to sign for the mall after the development of the first phase”, he added.
The writer is a senior journalist in Ahmedabad. he can be reached at Abdulhafizlakhani@gmail.com