A 'dark' Christmas for traders at Russel Market this year

A 'dark' Christmas for traders  at Russel Market this year

While the City decked itself up to usher in Christmas, traders at Russel Market in Shivajinagar experienced a ‘dark’ festival eve this year.

“At this time of the year, the area used to be so crowded  you had no place to even stand. A few thousand easily filled up the entire market,” said Murali, owner of one of the popular cake shops.

Every year, people thronged the grand Christmas cake shows here. This year, however, the market is not even a shadow of what it used to be.

Ever since the fire engulfed it in February, things have never been the same. The biggest problem traders are facing is the lack of electricity. “We have been using generators for the past eight months and it is becoming a very costly affair. I have to spend around  Rs 1,000 on the generators alone,” said Nisar Ahmed, owner of a vegetable shop.
80 varieties

He remembers fondly the splendid fruit and vegetable shows he put up four years ago.
“My shop displayed 80 different varieties of fruits and vegetables around this time,” said Ahmed.

Business has been badly hit after the fire accident. “We would produce 1,500 kg  to 3,000 kg of cakes and earn lakhs of rupees in a matter of days. This Christmas, we are not even sure of selling 1,000 kg of cakes, said Murali.

People no longer venture into the market because it is dark most of the time. A popular place for festival shoppers during the season, there are only one or two regular customers who still come here despite the poor facilities. “Devotees from St Mary’s Basilica would come here after their midnight Christmas Mass and the market used to bustle with activity till late night. There are hardly any people now,” said Murali.

     Ahmed is a member of the Russel Market Traders’ Association. He, along with his Association, has tried moving heaven and earth to restore electricity in the market, but in vain.

“The Association called on the chief minister and even got an assurance from him that electricity supply would be restored as soon as possible. But eight months on, nothing has been done,” said Ahmed.

The fire destroyed many facilities such as toilets, water supply and other infrastructure.
But the government and the municipal authorities are oblivious to the traders’ problems despite several representations. The Association has also been complaining about the lack of parking facilities, but nothing has been done about it.

CM’s greetings

Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar extended Christmas greetings to all the people in the State. “Let the celebration of Christmas inspire the people  to observe the principles of peace, harmony and brotherhood preached by Jesus Christ,” he said.

Chariot catches fire

Christmas Eve turned tense for devotees at St Mary’s Basilica in Shivajinagar after a chariot readied for the midnight Mass caught fire hours before the service.

Two fire tenders were pressed into service and the blaze was brought under control. The chariot was partially burnt and some religious figurines decorated with grass and paper were reduced to ashes. Firecrackers are said to have sparked the fire.

Eyewitnesses said the organisers had placed crackers on all the four sides of the chariot and were conducting a trial before the midnight prayers. When the crackers were lit, sparks fell on the decoration material on the chariot and burnt it, police said.

“We were having food on the church premises when I heard a loud sound. Within seconds, the chariot was burning. There were many people around and everyone scrambled to douse the fire, “ said Chetana, an eyewitness.

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