Variety offsets squalor at Russell Market

While customers don’t complain about the quality and range of products available here, they do have problems  with parking space and cleanliness.

Plodding through the market means literally squelching through it.

Dirty water from fish shops, rotten vegetables and fruits, and other animal waste dumped in the open, make life difficult not only for traders but also for customers.

Contributing to the mess in no small measure are cattle urinating and defecating all over the market premises.

The floor of the fish market is covered by blood dripping from transport and refuse lorries, water oozing from ice blocks and discarded fish offals.

Ignoring the grubbiness are drunks, alms-seekers and homeless people who snore away blissfully on the pavements.

Sans amenities

“There are about fifty shops in each row with eight rows inside the main building of Russell Market. There are no civic amenities and absolutely no cleanliness. This and the parking problems have contributed to our depleting revenue,” complains Umakanth, owner of a toy shop in the building.

“The market used to be cleaned once a week earlier, but it does not happen anymore. People from the Corporation don’t come to check, either. Earlier, water used to drain out on its own, but now, the drains are clogged. There is stagnant water everywhere and the resultant swarms of mosquitoes,” says Manjunath, owner of a fruit and vegetable shop.

Ali, another vegetable shop owner, says a lot of vendors sell their wares on roadsides, which is not only illegal, but also leads to crowding of the streets. “Earlier, police would confiscate goods and vehicles of such vendors and get them to pay fines, even threatening them that their vehicles would be auctioned. Although this was just to scare them, it helped. But now, roadside vendors bribe the cops and get away with what they are doing,” says Ali.

Many shop owners say the market is cleaned when inspectors come to check it, but returns to its old ways once the checking is over. Having sent innumerable letters to the authorities in vain, concerned people are hiring eunuchs to clean up the place, as they charge less compared to the women who usually do the cleaning.

Saving grace

In contrast, there are people who are very happy with the market. “There are only two such markets in the entire country and Russell Market is one of them. I am proud to be a part of this market and don’t have any complaints about it,” says K M Kafi.


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