A mess of a market

A mess of a market

A mess of a market

The historical Krishnarajendra Market has slipped into an utter chaos with the civic authorities turning a blind eye to the degeneration of what was once a one-stop shop for Bangaloreans

Once a battlefield during the Tipu Sultan era, KR Market has today metamorphosed into mini a war zone of sorts, where the fight is on against garbage and unhygienic conditions prevailing there. The biggest market in the City with a rich historic background is in a big mess thanks to dirt, filth, unbearable stink, chaotic traffic, cattle and shops spilling over onto footpaths at every nook and corner.

The place where the KR Market exists had witnessed deadly battles between Tipu’s forces and the East India Company regiments in 1791. After conquering the fort, the British turned the battlefield into a small market, which gradually became a pete - a big marketplace.

Realising the necessity for a trade centre in the heart of the City, the erstwhile Mysore Maharaja, Krishnarajendra Wadiyar, constructed a huge market building in 1921, which was later named after him. The grand market is now a major business hub.

Markets such as Thigalarapet, Tharagupet, Nagarthpet, Balepet, Ballapurapet, Chickpet, Cottonpet, Ganigarapet and Cubbonpet that had existed even before the huge building came up, attracted huge businesses from not only the neighbouring areas, but also from other states such as Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.

However, the market, which stood the test of the time, could not withstand the greed of the rulers of Independent India. In the name of renovation, the civic agency brought down the old structure in 1995, retaining only its frontal portion to preserve its historic importance. The assurance given to citizens and shopkeepers by the then civic agency and the State government was that the new building would be no less grand than the demolished structure. But it remains an empty promise.

The half-built, badly designed new structure was dedicated to the public in 1998 and since then, no efforts have been made to complete the project. The structure has not been painted, its floors are incomplete, the space meant for a garden has turned into a garbage dumping yard, and cattle roam freely inside it.

A visit to the KR Market reveals the appalling failure of the civic agency. Its old grandeur lost, hygiene-conscious people have stopped entering the place. People fear an epidemic would break out here. Meant for parking vehicles, the reeking basement is filled with filth.
Traders cannot recall when the basement was cleaned the last time, but that no cleaning work had been taken up in the last five years.

“Even when the garbage crisis gripped the City, the authorities did not bother to clean the market,” says Rahmath, a fruit vendor. He said he fell sick recently after contracting infections from the dirty two-wheeler parking lot at the basement. “I park my vehicle anywhere outside, but not in the basement. Many shopkeepers do the same,” he says.

Vinod, another trader who sells vegetables on the road, says his father has been allotted a shop in the second floor of the building where no customers go. So, he was forced to do business outside. He complained that the plastering on the shop walls, wiring and toilet facilities had not been done properly and customers avoid the market.
“One of the most unattractive and unscientifically built structures, the KR Market building doesn’t serve its purpose. Since it has been a market for ages, old Bangaloreans visit it and keep the business running,” says Vinod.

There is resentment among the traders against the State government as well as the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike for the pathetic state of the market. They have been demanding that its glory be restored.

Malathi, chairperson of the BBMP Standing Committee (Markets), however, claims that the Palike has taken several measures to improve the market. She says the Palike plans to construct 570 more shops in and around the market, which will be handed over to those
who run their businesses on the pavements.

On the lack of basic facilities, Malathi said, “As per the State government’s direction, we are bound to provide facilities inside the market. Our committee has taken a decision in this regard and it will be placed before the Council shortly.”

She acknowledged the fact that the market was in a shambles and there was a  need to renovate it. “But the challenge dogging the Palike is the daily floating business in and around the building. Even if we wish to take up renovation work, traders will oppose it, because their business will be affected. These are the obstacles we are facing,” she said.
Malathi admitted that segregation of waste was not being done properly at the market where about 80 tonnes of garbage is generated daily.


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