Traders mull shifting outlets as rain turns Avenue Road into cesspool

Repeated appeals to the BBMP to hasten the work have fallen on deaf ears, forcing traders to call for a protest
Last Updated 20 April 2022, 20:13 IST

The recent rain has compounded the woes of Avenue Road where redevelopment work, undertaken by the Bengaluru Smart City Limited in January 2021, is still underway after roadblocks and missed deadlines.

Dug-up roads, overflowing drains, poorly laid pedestrian paths, and dust have robbed the trading hub of its business and traders are contemplating shifting their outlets. After last weekend’s rain, the road is pockmarked with foul-smelling cesspools of water.

Repeated appeals to the BBMP to hasten the work have fallen on deaf ears, forcing traders to call for a protest in the coming week. Many say their business has shrunk by 80 per cent. Many hung ‘to-let’ boards wanting to sell their shops or move to alternative locations.

A third generation jeweller, whose family has been doing business on this stretch for the last 80 years, told DH: “We are among the highest who pay taxes. Now, due to heavy losses, we are planning to sell the shop and move to another location or wind up if we fail to get a property either for rent or purchase. We have in the last three years, because of the pandemic and the never-ending project work, either lost our old clients or don’t have any new clients coming along.”

He said that during the recent rains, he had drainage water stagnant in front of his shop. “It stinks and people refuse to come near this stretch,” he added.

Multiple issues

A Ramesh, president of the Avenue Road Book Association and a representative of the traders, said that power shortages, poor internet connectivity, and erratic water supply have aggravated the traders’ problems. The project, for which the tender has been called thrice, is moving at a slow pace.

“I have lost 90 per cent of my business. Many traders have hung a ‘to-let’ board outside their shops because without proper business it is impossible to pay exorbitant rents. The recent rain brought sewage onto the road. This was a shocking sight,” he said.

With online classes and work-from-home becoming the norm in the last few years, traders like Ashok Kumar, who runs a stationery shop, said that his business has dipped by 60 per cent.

“Cables jutting out of the road surface, poor concretisation and shoddy laying of sanitary pipe lines were exposed in the recent rain. Drainage water was all over the road restricting vehicle movement. In some cases, drainage water was flowing into the shops. With most buildings without a basement parking, vehicles that unload materials are parked on the road blocking traffic movement.

Works to be completed by May 13: BBMP administrator

Rakesh Singh, chairman of Bengaluru Smart City Ltd (BSCL) and BBMP administrator, said the work on Avenue Road would be completed by May 13.

“The total cost of the project on Avenue Road is Rs 19 crore and the total length is one kilometre. The cost increased because the initial black-topping plans changed to white-topping because of public demand. The sudden rain did delay the resumption of work. The Karaga festival took up a lot of time as well.”

Talking about other factors that added to the delay, he said, “The footpath should have been done but shifting utilities is a time-consuming affair. It took a while for the pipes to arrive. Without it, shifting would not have been possible because identifying the place, relocating them and making them functional requires time.”

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(Published 20 April 2022, 19:35 IST)

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