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Fire Tragedy Waiting to Happen, KR Market Traders Warn BBMP

They claim that shops illegally set up in ventilation zones are a safety risk and wait for the city corporation to bring them down

Published: 07th December 2015 05:44 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th December 2015 05:44 AM   |  A+A-

FIRE

KR MARKET:The market here, which has a history of over 80 years and generates a revenue of `9.5 lakh a month for Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), may see a fire accident anytime, warn vendors. They claim that 15 shops have been constructed illegally over the ventilation zones in upper basement of the Sri Krishna Rajendra Market due to officials laxity.

The market  has witnessed 14 fire incidents in last two years.

The traders association says that it has brought these violations to the notice of the city corporation, but the BBMP failed to clear them. Now, the shop owners have obtained a stay.

Besides the health and safety concerns, huge losses were also incurred by the traders because of these shops. According to GM Diwakar, member of the SKR Market Flower Merchants Association, who took the matter to court, the situation has come about mainly because of official apathy. “Peoples’ lives are at stake as the shops have come up in the area which was left open for ventilation. The irony is that these shops came up with the help of officials and political representatives,” he claims.

Praveen Kumar, secretary of an association in the market and who had worked along with Diwakar to move court against these constructions, says, “Because BBMP did not help us, we approached the Lokayukta and Subash B Adi was suppose to have taken up the case. Since he is on leave, there could be some delay,” he said.

The association had approached the high court earlier and got an order against the BBMP, which stated that no illegal shops should be allowed to come up within the market’s premises. “Many metal sheds have come up in the market premises which are illegal, thus amounting to contempt of court,” he said.

He alleged that the city corporation’s standing committee acted in violation of the Municipal Corporation Act. “The committee has allotted  shops to various traders on rental basis, violating the KMC Act.”

A highly placed source at BBMP said that the considerable bribe is paid by the shops.

“Flower shops make the highest income from the complex, so the owners are willing to pay officials over  `10 lakh,” said the official. What surprises the official is how these shops function without the knowledge of senior officials. According to vendors, shops have been allotted space by bending rules. Following complaints and protests, the shops had been seized by the corporation but later the owners of these shops got a stay.

Dastagir Khan, a member of Muslim Merchant Association of S K R Market, said that maintenance of the market has gone from bad to worse and with the emergence of new shops, it is deteriorating further. “BBMP is indifferent to our complaints about garbage dumping in the market.

Although they are aware of the situation, they are not taking any action,” he said. Dastagir said that if their apathy over illegal markets continue, all the traders will close the market and no business will be allowed. Diwakar blamed former commissioners like who he said should also be held responsible as they had cleared files recommended by the Standing Committee.

 “In 2013, when one commissioner was about to retire from his office, he gave consent to set up two shops with the help of a former Standing Committee chairperson. Later another commissioner also failed to see the papers and in a hurry signed  files pertaining to eight more shops. When we protested, one former commissioner had  asked the association to take legal course of action to get the shops cleared,” said Diwakar.

BBMP’s take

The BBMP’s Deputy Commissioner for Markets, K Mathai, said that the corporation has started a drive to clear hawkers who have illegally set up shops and will also look into the matter of shops coming up in ventilation areas.

According to him, in last ten days, the BBMP  has conducted three drives – in Jayanagar, at S K R Market Complex and at Russel Marker – to clear hawkers and warn illegal shop owners.

The Old Market

K R Market (Krishna Rajendra Market), also known as City Market, is the largest wholesale market in Bengaluru. It is named after Krishna Rajendra Wodeyar, a former ruler of the princely state of Mysore.  It was the first area in the whole of Asia to get electricity. It is also considered to be the largest flower market in Asia.

K R Market was established in 1928

  • The new complex building was opened in 1998.
  • The S K R Market has 1,800 shops. Two  hundred  shops, which measure around one lakh square feet, lie vacant.
  • The market serves as a nerve centre for different kinds of businesses in the city.
  • In BBMP limits, there are 123 markets. In  them, there are  5,957 legal shops.
  • BBMP earns monthly rentals of `32,55,162.35 from the complexes.


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