Although the markets in Bengaluru hold a special place in the hearts of the people and the culture and history of the city, they have been victims of complete ineptitude on the part of the authorities concerned.
The authorities have done very little to protect these places that people visit almost every day. While most of the markets in the city are basically lacking, others remain in a state of neglect.
According to BBMP’s estimate, at least 12 markets in the city are in a bad condition and call for an emergency.
DH visited several markets across the city to get a first-hand experience of why vendors operate on footpaths and why they have not been given concrete shops as promised.
A vendor in Ulsor market said that many shops in the market are in poor condition and the vendors have undertaken minor repairs to prevent water leakage and other problems.
“None of the authorities bother to check whether the markets are in good condition or ignore our complaints. There is no maintenance. It has been more than nine years since the BBMP started maintenance work in this market,” said Syed M, who runs a vegetable shop in runs the Ulsoor market.
BBMP officials, on their part, said that the challenges are many.
A senior BBMP official said, “Even though we have given warnings, it is difficult to evict the vendors, do reconstruction work.”
On the other hand, the vendors said that the civil institutions did not fulfill the promises they made.
Over the years, although a number of agencies have started reconstruction work, many of them are either suspended or closed without preserving the cultural heritage of their place.
“Most of the vendors are engaged in day-to-day business. Take KR market or Malleswaram market for example. Vendors have been waiting for years to return to the market and do normal business. There are many such instances where the civic bodies do not meet the deadline. So, the vendors are hesitant to pave the way for restructuring,” said GM Diwakar, president of the KR Market Flower Traders Association.
Some vendors said that their regular customers no longer come due to lack of good infrastructure and poor access to markets.
While evicting vendors and planning for redevelopment is a big challenge, getting funds for the project is also a tough task, BBMP officials said.
“There is a shortage of funds to start the redevelopment works. Therefore, we cannot give a plan or a deadline for the redevelopment works. Because the buildings are weak, we have to protect them from disasters. ,” said a senior BBMP official. “Limited funds have been allocated in the last two years, due to the pandemic,” he added.
Also, thanks to lack of funds, the BBMP had proposed to the government to allow the development of these markets under the public-private partnership (PPP) model. However, this proposal was neither accepted nor rejected, officials said.
It is very important to preserve the architecture and the cultural significance that a market has when carrying out renovation works. Among other challenges, the authorities seem to have given this low priority, experts said.
“Just replacing the existing building with a new one is not useful. Markets have grown with the city and reflect its character. They also have a story and it is important to ensure that the character of the market is not lost during the renovation. The history and ethos of these historic buildings must be preserved for posterity,” said Meera Iyer, curator of the Bengaluru chapter of INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage).
Reconstruction works in Cox Town market, Madiwala market and others have turned out to be failed attempts, she said.
A vendor at Malleswaram Market, where reconstruction work has been stalled for nearly eight years, pointed out that the footfall in the markets will drop drastically if they do not tap into the sentiment the market is carrying.
“As it is, we have seen a significant decline since the beginning of the operations. People visit the market to get all the things easily in one place. If they build multi-level markets and distribute the vendors at different levels, businesses will have an impact. spoil it,” said Muniyamma, a flower seller at Malleswaram market.