Bangalore June 28;Rows of fresh vegetables and fruits are still neatly stacked and the fragrance from garlands lingers in the air. People amble, exchange pleasantries with shopkeepers and bargain for the best produce.
This scene from the Malleswaram fruits and vegetable market on Sampige Road belies its precarious future: it is close to being demolished to make way for a five-storeyed commercial complex.
The demolition of the market — one of the few remaining traditional markets in the city — began in March, but was stalled following opposition by shopkeepers.
Last year, the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), which owns the market, entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) for the “development” of the market. The proposal to raze the market and construct a multi-storeyed one in its place was first mooted in 2010.
The project cost was Rs. 76.3 crore initially; by 2012, it had escalated to Rs. 132 crore.
Shopkeepers and traders have challenged the proposal in the Karnataka High Court. M.M. Srikrishna, who has been a vendor here since 1969, said there are 257 shops in the market.
“When 48 shopkeepers went to court challenging the proposal, the BDA constructed temporary sheds only for them. What about the other shopkeepers? What is to happen to them?”
The temporary sheds have been constructed on a drain next to the market, points out Shivakumar N., who has a vegetable shop there. If it rains heavily, the market is bound to get flooded, he said.
According to him, each shopkeeper paid the BBMP Rs. 150 a month as rent, but they were provided no facilities.
“Around two years ago, the BBMP spent nearly Rs. 1 crore to provide drinking water and construct toilets. It even set up an organic waste converter. However, a few months ago, the authorities demolished the toilets and uninstalled the waste converter. Part of the machine is now gathering dust, while the main part has been shifted to the dry waste collection centre in Vyalikaval,” said Mohan Kumar, a fruit seller.
Mr. Shivakumar said the shopkeepers had got nearly 400 citizens to sign a petition opposing the commercial complex. This, he said, had been submitted to the High Court, which is hearing the case.
Pannaga Sri, a local resident, is one of those who regularly buys fruits and vegetables from the market. “There are many malls already in Malleswaram. I prefer shopping in this market, as it is more personalised and I am assured of the quality of the produce,” she said.
When contacted, BDA officials told The Hindu that the future of the market was dependent on the court’s verdict.
The BDA had already dropped proposals to “develop” Seshadripuram and K.R. Puram markets after facing opposition from citizens and shopkeepers. “If the court gives us the go ahead, we will construct temporary sheds for all the shopkeepers,” an official said.