VIJAYAWADA: Tension pervaded Lenin Centre here on Tuesday even as officials of the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC) attempted to move shopkeepers from a century-old building that is vulnerable to collapse.
Several shopkeepers opposed the move and staged a protest. They demanded that the civic body give them more time to vacate the place, as this is the peak season for them to do business. However, they vacated the building after holding talks with VMC officials.
Speaking to Express, Shopkeepers Association president K Bhagavan said as many as 30 shopkeepers sold textiles for the past four decades at the place by paying a rent of `6,000 - `25,000 per month. In 2014, VMC officials served notices on the association to vacate the building as it was not strong enough. The association has approached the High Court and Supreme Court seeking interim relief. However, the verdicts came in favour of the civic body and the association was told to vacate the place, he said.
Bhagavan added that the association had approached the High Court seeking interim relief in 2015 and the court had directed JNTU engineers to study the building’s strength and submit a detailed report. The report stated that the first floor of the building needed to be demolished before a disaster struck, but the ground floor could remain for a few more years. The building owner, K Manohar, had constructed the complex without following safety norms, putting the shopkeepers in a spot, he rued.
“We are doing the business at the place for the last four decades and have developed a special bond with the spot. Not even an alternative space was provided for us to do business and sadly this is the peak time for business as Sankranti is approaching,” Bhagavan said.
According to VMC officials, Manohar approached the civic body and submitted an application to demolish the building. Several notices were served on the shopkeepers to vacate the place, but none of them followed the orders of the civic body.
Two months ago, Manohar once again approached the VMC to demolish the building.
“Following the directions of municipal commissioner G Veerapandian, a team of town planning officials reached the place and told the shopkeepers to vacate the building,” said city planner Ankaiah.