It brings in the moolah, but faces monumental neglect

Once a key landmark in the grand plans of the visionary ruler Kempegowda I, Bangalore pete, the heritage central business district surrounding KR Market, now stands as a testimony to deliberate administrative neglect over the years.

The pete is an imp­o­r­tant business centre with innumerable shops and approximately 20,000 traders operating from there on a daily basis.

There is a flower market, the Balepet where one can find the choicest of bangles and Chickpet, Nagarthpet and Avenue Road that offer a wide variety of sarees. At Kumbarpet, one can find exquisite traditional toys, while Raja Market is famous for jewellery. Every market is named after the commodity it sells. So, it is obvious what Cottonpet and Akkipet (Akki is Kannada for rice) sell,” says Srinivas, a local resident.

The customers at these markets are not driven by the greed for the wholesale rates they have to offer. But, some of them have been coming here for a generation or two just as a matter of loyalty. These days, even the businessmen from the malls mushrooming across the City come to this place to buy supplies at wholesale rates and sell them at retail prices.

Though the markets are home to successful entrepreneurs from the agriculture-based and cottage industries, who bring in substantial revenue to the government, there is hardly any initiative to improve the living conditions there.

Says Shantamma, a shopkeeper: “Just look around you. So many customers throng these markets and bring in huge revenue to the government by purchasing items in the hundreds of shops. But, where is the infrastructure?”

“The roads are very narrow. There are neither footpaths, toilets nor drinking water facilities. There is also no proper parking lot.”

Traffic  congestion

The roads leading to this market are prone to severe traffic congestion owing to the Namma Metro project on one side and the pillars of the Mysore Road flyover on the other. Moreover, in the absence of timely garbage disposal, the waste lies scattered in the vicinity, attracting cattle and other animals. They are also a hurdle for smooth traffic movement.

There is a sense of lawlessness in these areas. “Barely five policemen are present at any given point of time. Altogether, 20 of them take turns. But, the vendors are scared to seek their assistance. They harass the vendors, if they fail to pay their dues (mamool). They assist in dealing with traffic problems only in exceptional cases,” laments Venkatesh, a dealer in flowers.

On the other side of KR Market, close to Victoria Hospital, there are protected monuments such as the Bangalore Fort. However, this landmark destination barely has any relevance to visitors these days. While one-fourth of the area is surrounded by the hospital premises, the other is barely visible amidst the public parking area. “Finding this historical place is a bigger achievement than exploring it. A visitor will definitely think whether it is worth visiting,” says Raju, a floriculturist.

“For the past 20 years, we have been seeking better roads. The so-called development has created more hurdles than convenience,” said a pedestrian.
The irrational infrastructure development has failed to support both business and residents in areas around KR Market. It desperately waits for its glory to be restored.

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