Traders firm, refuse to vacate Russell Market

Traders firm, refuse to vacate Russell Market

Say heritage building safe, unaffected by Feb 2012 fire; BBMP has not collected rent.

 The deadlock between the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and Russell Market traders continues. 

While the BBMP has been insisting that the traders vacate the market as experts have declared the heritage building unsafe after fire broke out in it in February 2012, traders urge the civic body to make public the report prepared by Civil-Aid Technoclinic Pvt Ltd, a forum that certifies buildings. The traders have questioned the veracity of the Civil-Aid report, which was prepared soon after the fire. 

Mohammed Idrees Choudhary, the general secretary of Russell Market Traders’ Association, has asserted that the main building built in 1850 was not affected by the fire. “Only the open courtyard behind the main structure, where vegetable vendors were housed, had suffered as the pillars and moulding were damaged by about 30 per cent,” he said. “But we roped in KK Infrastructure and got them repaired.” 

Choudhary said the Palike had been “unresponsive” to the traders’ demand that it show them the Civil-Aid report. “It is dragging its feet over the matter, only reinforcing our doubts about the report,” he added. The main building was extended during the Raj in 1927. 

City-based architect Mansoor, who had closely inspected the market just after the fire, said the iron girders supporting the structure—imported from England—were very strong. “The walls are also stable and I cannot understand why the structure needs to be razed,” he said. “The only thing to be done is to plaster the walls and put the finishing touches to the building so that it sports a new look.” 

The traders had pooled in Rs 1.5 crore in order to restore the building after the fire, and by May 2012, all the damaged portions had been repaired. “The report was compiled in a haphazard manner before the repairs were done,” Javed Sait, a fruit trader, said. “It has many loopholes and that’s why the Palike is refusing to share it with us.” 

But the BBMP’s Deputy Commissioner (Markets), Ramakrishna, defended the report, saying the Civil-Aid had the competence to study the structure and give its report. Fingers cannot be pointed at the report, he said. 

Ramakrishna said the traders had been given “certain assurances” to vacate the market. “We assured them that a new building will be constructed and all of them will be accommodated,” he said. “But they are afraid to vacate.” 

Meanwhile, the BBMP has not collected any rent from the traders since February 2012. The total rent has run into Rs 30 lakh. 

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