Facelift on fast forward mode

Facelift on fast forward mode

Russell Market: Fire a blessing in disguise as Palike plans makeover

The gutting of 123 shops in Russell Market has come as a boon in disguise for the BBMP, with the civic body planning to give the entire building a makeover.

Officials said the Palike now has an ideal opportunity to build a new building in place of the old structure. According to officials, plans are afoot to bring down the rear portion of the market to build a two-storey building with basement parking.

“While the ground floor will be retained for selling commodities like fruits, flowers and meat, we are yet to decide on the shops that can be allowed to operate on the first floor,” said a Palike official.

However, it has been made clear that there will be no demolition of the front portion of the Russell Market and the heritage structure will be retained.

“We will conduct a feasibility study on restoring the exterior of the Russell Market which is in a dilapidated condition. There will be no demolition of this portion,” said the official.
The three-acre space, including the Richard Square, is likely to be converted into a Multi-Level Car Parking on a Public-Private Partnership basis. Confirming this, BBMP Commissioner M K Shankarlinge Gowda said he would be look into the matter of incorporating the proposal in the plan for the new structure to be built at Russell Market.

The massive fire at the market on Saturday has put the BBMP in a quandary over providing relief to the traders for the losses they have suffered. Palike officials said the traders are now demanding Rs one lakh for each shop to make good the losses.

“The demand has come from the local MLA who has sought Rs one lakh per shop irrespective of the percentage of loss each shop owner has suffered,” said a Palike source. BBMP is likely to take a call on awarding compensation on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Palike officials have rejected foul play in the gutting of the shops. Fire and Emergency Services Department officials said there were no indicators, prima facie, that the fire was an act of foul play.

“The Russell Market was in a dilapidated condition. The wiring was old and this might have caused a short circuit,” said a Fire Department official.

‘Traders can’t rebuild market’
»Reacting to the traders’ remarks about not allowing BBMP to renovate Russell Market, BBMP Commissioner M K Shankarlinge Gowda said, “How will it help them if they want to renovate the market themselves? No one can take control of the place which belongs to BBMP. I totally understand the traders’ plight and compensation will be given to every shop owner depending on the severity of the damage,” he said.

The commissioner said traders need not have any apprehensions about the structure of the building as BBMP will retain its old look. A detailed project report will be prepared and renovation will be taken up in two phases. The right side of the building is damaged and it will be rebuilt. The shopping area inside will be modernised with provisions for fire safety.

On BBMP’s “negligence” on the upkeep of the market, he said some vested interests may have been at play as there was no demand for a facelift from the traders.