BANGALORE: Amid the tug-of-war between the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike and Russell Market traders over the renovation of the dilapidated complex which was gutted in fire last month, the market was reopened on Monday.
BBMP Commissioner M K Shankarlinge Gowda had earlier stated that shops would be opened only after tenders were floated to rebuild the damaged portions of the building.
However, before the Palike could do so, traders completed the renovation work. The building now has CCTV cameras and four security guards have been deployed at the market.
“It has become difficult for us to earn our daily bread. Even the authorities concerned did not help us. We did not have power supply to complete the reconstruction work. So, we decided to complete the renovation work by ourselves. Out of 140 shops that were gutted, only 20 are under repair. However, the ground floor will be open to public,” said Mohammed Idrees Choudry, general secretary, Russell Market Traders’ Association.
The construction firm working on the renovation works condemned the BBMP for turning a blind eye to traders’ plea.
“The BBMP cannot raise objection to renovation work. We too are certified builders and have done international projects. We have assured that the building is safe now,” said Syed Abrar, K K Enterprises.
Market standing on wells
Russell Market is resting with the support of pillars installed on water surface, by filling it with granite blocks during the British rule. The British wanted to set up cantonment and for that, water deposit location was a pre-requisite. Hence, Shivaji Nagar served their purposes. There are three such water deposit areas that were converted into wells. At present, Russell Market stands between three such wells: Rabu ki Bowdi, Sait Bowdi, and Chowk Bowdi. “The British engineering was so marvellous that when the ground was dug five-feet down to lay pillars, water gushed,” said Syed Abrar, Site Engineer, K K Enterprises.
Reconstruction in 40 days
Out of 179 strong pillars that holds the Russell Market, 20 were damaged during the fire tragedy. The reconstruction was done in 40-odd days which involved, 200 workers. The cost of the reconstruction works is estimated at Rs 1.25 crore.