Tale of Utility Building now turns a story of futility

No takers for ill-maintained structure, once a must-go for shoppers

Tale of Utility Building now turns a story of futility

The Public Utility Building (PUB) on MG Road, which was once the City’s tallest building, a major commercial centre and a showpiece, is today shunned and stands isolated in the City, owing to poor infrastructure and bad maintenance by Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).  

The all-in-one shopping complex with 24 floors wears a deserted look always due to the low footfalls. Arvind Mehta, who has his clothes shop on the first floor of PUB, fondly recalls the time when the building used to be a hotspot for shopaholics. 

He said on a nostalgic note: “During the 1982-1996 period, all the shops were doing good business. Now, we are facing a tough time making profits as not many customers come here. I used to pay Rs 4,000 as rent, but since the last one year, I am paying Rs 7,200 to BBMP. There is hardly any visibility in the building at night, due to the lack of proper lighting. Hence, not many people visit the place.” The poor hygiene and bad maintenance are other reasons why visitors hesitate to come.

The basement parking space is congested with four-wheelers and there is a foul smell due to the leakage of drainage water inside the parking lot. One of the ticket collectors at the parking lot said: “The place has been stinking for the past 10 years. A few cars have been there for more than two years now and the civic body seems to be least bothered. The public toilets are also not in good condition and no one uses it.” 

The lifts in the building are hardly used by outsiders. A few of them are not operational as not many people use them. Rangaiah, one of the security personnel, said: “The lifts are in good condition. But we have not been operating a few of them in recent years as not many people come, except the employees of the shops and government offices. The 23rd and 24th floors are totally deserted.”  

The shopkeepers and members of the PUB Shopping Complex Traders Association (PUBSCTA) tried to convince BBMP to adopt strategies like leasing out the shops, but there was no positive response from the civic body. Sanjay Mehta, Secretary, PUBSCTA, said, “There are over 75 shops here. But the shopkeepers are having a tough time for the past five years. We had earlier suggested BBMP to lease out the shops instead of renting them out. But it did not consider the suggestion.” 

Deepak V, a frequent visitor to the building, said: “The place has lost its importance due to the presence of other commercial complexes and malls nearby. Most people come to watch a movie at the cinema hall in the complex and go back. I wish the government does something to restore the structure to its old glory.” 

Following suggestions by the Fire department, the BBMP had earlier installed fire extinguishers, pipes and constructed a fire exit staircase at a cost of Rs 1.7 crore. However, many PUB employees feel that the fire exit staircase is of no use as it is too congested. One of them said: “Each floor has an exit. But the stairs are too narrow and not many people can use them. It’s a waste of money.”   

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