A visit to the City’s largest marketplace, the KR Market, will convince you why your well-being needn’t be hostage to a system that has no regard whatsoever to cleanliness, maintenance, efficient garbage management and even a semblance of order.
The dirt is everywhere. The muck is so widespread that vendors have no choice, but to keep their vegetables just near the garbage heap. Official apathy is so blatant that the vendors and buyers alike have given up hope for any change. Repeated pleas for Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike’s (BBMP) intervention have gone unheeded.
The basement of the KR Market building is meant for parking, but people use it to answer the call of nature. The huge complex does not have a proper drainage system.
Customers and vendors alike fear spread of infections. It is easy to enter the building, but difficult to find your way out because the roads are blocked by vendors. There’s nothing called toilet on the entire market premises.
Garbage clearance is a massive problem here. A vegetable vendor and Karnataka Rakshana Vedike activist, Wazeer Khan, claims that garbage has not been cleared from the market since Deepavali. “Whenwe went to complain about the dirty mess to the BBMP, we were told that the problem would persist as long as the garbage tender is not finalised. The problem in KR Market is that it is a market and not a residential area with a potential vote bank. There are political reasons too,” he explains.
Vegetable traders have also been approaching local MLA Zameer Ahmed and corporator of the ward Ashwath Narayan with their grievances, but the apathy continues.
Syed Ayaz, a vegetable vendor, attributes the market’s problems to the haphazard distribution of shops. “The cellar was supposed to be exclusively for vegetables and fruits, the next floor for other grocery items like flowers, pooja materials and spices, and the third floor for small machine tools and other stuff. However, the Palike messed up during the allotment of shops, leading to utter chaos,” Ayaz elaborates.
Grocery is being sold at the place where vegetales should have been sold. Traders will suffer huge losses if they set up shops at obscure locations in the market. So vendors choose to sell vegetables at the entrance instead of inside the building.
Although the BBMP gets huge revenue from the various markets in the City, there is no effort to improve them. The public representatives too are apparently equally apathetic.
According to Venkatachalapathy, Deputy Commissioner (Market), BBMP, the Palike gets around Rs 3.5 crore annually as rent from the 3,007 vegetable and fruit shops in the BBMP West Zone under which KR Market falls. Being the biggest vegetable and fruit market, KR Market’s contribution is much higher than the others in the West Zone. The Palike gets Rs 17.5 crore as rent from 6,442 shops in the City.
The Palike officer admits that there is too much dirt in KR Market. But he blames the delay in finalising the garbage tender for the untidy atmosphere.
Yet, the fact remains that the amount the Palike gets from the markets can easily pay for cleaning up the place daily. It remains a mystery where the money charged from traders really goes.
There is an apparent reluctance in the Palike to give a facelift to KR Market because the Palike authorities believe some ‘mafias’ operating there wouldn’t welcome any changes.
Markets across the City aren’t much different from KR Market in terms of upkeep.
Customers at Russel Market in Shivajinagar, for instance, are put off by the stench there. Yet, the vendors are forced to do business sitting there the entire day.
The Madiwala market too is in a sorry state. It has assumed the shape of a garbage dumping yard. Local residents say rotten vegetables are dumped there for months, but there is no one in the BBMP to move them to landfill sites on the City outskirts.
“The vegetable market stinks badly, but business goes on unhindered. You do not know that the vegetables you have bought could be from the rotten lot,” says Vidya M, a resident of Koramangala.
The poor state of affairs in these markets has given an edge to shopping malls that are doing brisk business in vegetablesPeople who care for hygiene are buying vegetables from these malls. Many vegetable vendors are feeling the heat as their business is badly affected. Vendors like Ayaz and Rehan are planning to switch to some other business.
“Vegetable selling used to be a profitable business sometime ago, but not anymore. I have to change the business, but I have no idea what else I am fit for other than selling vegetables. I am just an SSLC and with this qualification, I am sure I am not going to get a job,” laments Ayaz.
* BBMP has rented 6,442 shops in the City
* The Palike gets a revenue of Rs 17.5 crore from the shops
* The arrears towards the BBMP is about Rs 20 crore
* Vegetable trade is roughly worth between Rs 10 crore and Rs 15 crore a day in and around Bangalore