BENGALURU: Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s (BBMP’s) pilot project Palike Bazaar (underground market) at Vijayanagar is delayed much beyond the six months — the promised duration for completion since it began on December 2017. Now, the vendors, who were living on a day-to-day business basis fear they would not only lose their customers when they move underground, but also lose their business due to the delay.
The project is just about 20 per cent complete and looks like it’s going to take a long time to be completed. Till then, residents of the area and vendors have to only cope with the chaos as construction work has taken most part of the service road.
In November 2017, the then Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had laid the foundation for various works at Vijayanagar, including Palike Bazaar, which is similar to Palika Bazaar in New Delhi. The underground air-conditioned Palike Bazaar is being constructed beneath 8th main Vijayanagar (Service road) near Metro station, where BBMP is already constructing it, and in the first phase, 42 shops will be constructed.
In December 2017, the vendors who then had their shops by the roadside, were asked to vacate as the work commenced. At present, they have dug up the road till least 20-25 feet, taking most part of the service road. Vendors now sit in whatever space is left and struggle to do business. The market area is crowded especially during festival and weekends.
“BBMP authorities have dug up the road, creating a mess. No proper safety measures have been taken. Every day, hundreds of people come here and more during the weekends. The construction site does not have any proper barricade. It is worse when it rains,’’ Smitha Raj, resident of Marenhalli and a frequent visitor said.
The vendors who are the most affected, are unhappy over the delayed work. “It looks like they will take another one to one-and-a-half years to complete work. Till then, we have to suffer. We are here since several years. All our wares are kept in the open, as they are digging up, the dust sits on it. If we sell items covered with dust, nobody will buy them. We will lose our customers and business,’’ said Mahesh (name changed) who sells puja items.
Vinay Srinivas from Federation of Bengaluru Street Vendors has objected to the very concept of an underground market. “Did any vendor ask them to construct the market? Instead of making an underground market, they could have made an underground parking that could have helped metro rail commuters. These are small vendors who earn their bread on a day-to-day basis. If their business is shifted underground, people will not prefer to walk down to buy their ware. Also these are air-conditioned, which means it needs more power. The electricity bill will be on the vendors, who will end up paying more rent,’’ he said.
M Krishnappa said the project was supposed to be completed within six months, but due to elections and other reasons it was delayed. “We just want to make the road free from encroachers and vendors,’’ he added. However, the delayed project now threatens to rob the vendors of their business.
42 shops constructed for 170 vendors
The allottment of shops to vendors at Palike Bazaar by BBMP is just an eyewash, allege vendors at Vijayanagar. The Vijayanagar market on service road started some 30 years ago with 60 to 70 vendors. Over a period of time, the number of vendors increased to 170. Vijayanagar street vendors association President S Babu said the construction was causing inconvenience to vendors and pedestrians. “We are more than 170 vendors.
The number of shops they are constructing is only 42. What should the remaining do?’’ he said. Babu claimed that when they filed for an RTI seeking the name of the beneficiaries, the BBMP provided a list along with photographs. “They have given the names of only 30 beneficiaries. Many of them seem to be bogus or duplicate. Two different persons taking photographs in front of the same shop are allotted,’’ he said. Another vendor said that the real beneficiaries’ names are missing. This is a systematic way to remove street vendors from the road and allot the space to people who have influence, he said.