Promises aplenty, but debris uncleared

Traders in Russell Market upset with Palikes inaction

A steady stream of VIPs are visiting the Russell Market, sympathising with the traders and are promising them that the restoration work would begin in earnest.

But even three days after the raging inferno gutted 173 shops, not much has been done. The Palike officers are yet to get the debris cleared, leaving the traders fuming. 

Venting out his anger, Mohammed Idrees Choudary, Secretary of the Traders’ Association, said: “During the chief minister’s visit, the Palike officers promised to deploy a batch of 180 workers and speed up the restoration work.

As of now, eight lanes of 24 shops each are in bad shape. Even if they had deputed one officer for every lane, a large part of the work would have been completed and we could have reopened the market by weekend.

“There is no system in place and when the officers are not interested in doing constructive work, there is no point in talking. They have been like this and will continue to be so.”

Choudary added that the traders have been unable to get in touch with the Palike officers. On Monday, the association members roped in their own workers and kickstarted the work with the cleaning of a passage.

The members are planning to meet the chief minister and submit a memorandum. Union Minister for External Affairs S M Krishna visited the market on Monday, along with a few politicians and officials. 

Choudary, who accompanied Krishna, said: “The minister recollected the good old days when he accompanied his mother to the market. He was touched to see the plight of the traders and the half-burnt market. He immediately promised to sanction Rs one crore.”

Palike’s defence
When asked about the delay in the clearing of debris, a senior BBMP official said: “We are waiting for the electrical inspectorate department officials to collect the samples. Today, they have completed their job. We will start the work from Tuesday and in four days, we plan to complete the preliminary cleaning process.”

The Shivajinagar police, who have taken up a case, are investigating. However, they are awaiting reports from Bescom and the Fire department. Meanwhile, experts from the Forensic Science Laboratory who visited the market on Sunday are expected to submit their report in a couple of days. 

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