BBMP to clear squatters at markets in phases

BBMP to clear squatters at markets in phases

Metrolife visits more markets, and brings you a ground report about the mess they are in. Corrupt officials are allowing encroachers to thrive, but action is in the offing

The BBMP is demolishing illegal structures at the city’s markets. These shops had come up on Meenakshi Koil Street, OPH Road Circle. On Saturday, May 4, officials pulled them down. It was their second drive, after the one at KR Market that cleared up road and footpath space.

The city’s prominent markets are dirty are mismanaged. Metrolife had earlier reported on markets in Jayanagar, Shivajinagar (Russell Market), Banashankari and Malleswaram. In this part, we continue our reality checks by going to KR Market, Madiwala and Johnson Market.

KR Market, once Bengaluru’s most charming vegetable and fruit market and tourist attraction, is now surrounded by garbage.
KR Market, once Bengaluru’s most charming
vegetable and fruit market and
tourist attraction, is now surrounded by garbage.

KR Market : Garbage triggers diseases

K R Market (Krishna Rajendra Market), also known as City Market, is the largest wholesale commodities market in Bengaluru. Located in Kalasipalyam, adjacent to Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace, this market is a tourist attraction. Recently, the BBMP cleared encroachments, clearing up the footpaths. Another big problem here is garbage, heaps of which are dumped from the surrounding markets. Shopkeepers say the stench keeps customers away.

What shopkeepers say

Mani, a vegetable vendor, says, “The waste is never cleared properly, and our health is affected. The cows from the surrounding areas come here to graze. This and the foul smell keep customers away.”

G M Diwakar, president of the Vendors and Shoppers Association of K R Market, says about 2,500 vendors carry out business in K R Market. “Garbage dumping has increased. The smell is unbearable. Many of us have been hospitalised with malaria, skin problems and breathing difficulties,” he says. The market has no clean drinking water and toilets, he complains.

Johnson Market, just a km from MG Road, needs better maintenance and lighting.
Johnson Market, just a km from MG Road,
needs better maintenance and lighting.

Johnson Market: Great location, poor lighting

Johnson Market, located in a prominent bylane between Richmond Town and Hosur Road, was built in 1929. It is one of the oldest markets in the city and retains its architectural charm.

What shopkeepers say

Sayeed Nawaz has been selling meat in Johnson Market for more than 50 years. “There are many shops vacant. They are used to dump old furniture and this is an invitation to rats. We also don’t have a proper place to store vegetables,” he says.

Ayaz, a vegetable vendor, has been running his business here for 35 years. “The roof leaks whenever it rains. The market is poorly lit at night and customers think it is unsafe to step in. The poor lighting also encourages rats and rodents to thrive,” he says.

Madiwala Market: Greeted by heaps of garbage

Makeshift shops waiting to move into
the 88-shop market complex being built by the BBMP.

The Madiwala Market connects Koramangala and Sarjapur Road with Hosur Road. Its makeshift stalls sell fruits, vegetables and puja items.   

The BBMP razed illegal shops here last year and promised to build a market complex. But 88 shops remain at the Madiwala market and carry out business from shacks along the main complex. Waste is strewn on the pavement, and spills onto the main road. Garbage remains uncleared for days.

What shopkeepers say

Amuda, a vegetable seller, has been around for 30years. “We were promised we would be shifted to the market complex six months ago. Nothing has moved,” she says.

Indira, a flower seller, dreads the rains. “Water seeps in through the tarpaulin and flowers are damaged. In the monsoon, we go without business for days. We hope the complex is completed soon,” she says.

In conversation

Make markets attractive

Meera Iyer, Convenor, INTACH Bengaluru chapter, says markets must be revived, spruced up and converted into places of attraction.

Why do you think most markets are so filthy despite BBMP allocating funds for their upkeep?

Many of them need some upgrading. In Johnson Market, for example, there are proper functioning toilets. They also need mechanisms for solid waste management. At the same time, it would be good if the traders’ associations were stronger. The way Russell Market Traders Association went about rebuilding it with absolutely no help, in fact, despite the BBMP, was remarkable.

What can be done to maintain our market spaces?

Instead of trying to convert markets into modern establishments with faceless stalls, how about conserving their particularly Indian character? Indian markets have always been lively places, buzzing with activity, colour and commerce. Such a contrast from some of BBMP’s markets. Maybe we should try and bring back a ‘santhe’ look and feel? Also, can markets be made multi-purpose?

‘We will crack down on encroachments’

S G Ravindra, BBMP special commissioner (estates, education and market), recently led an operation against encroachments at Russell Market.

He pulled down illegal shops and evicted pavement vendors who had taken up half the road, resulting in traffic jams and choked pedestrian passages. “A High Court division bench, headed by interim chief justice L Narayanaswamy, had asked BBMP officials if there was enough space in the existing markets for fire tenders to move around in case there was a fire. He said if there was no space (due to encroachment) and a fire broke out and innocent lives were lost, he would hold BBMP officials responsible. It is after this that we decided to clear encroachments in markets,” he says. The BBMP began with K R Market and has now taken up Russell Market. “We will also move to the other markets to clear encroachments. It will be done in a phased manner,” he says.
A senior official says vendors block evictions by calling up local corporators. “A big mafia runs these markets. They are supported by elected representatives,” he says. BBMP officials and the police, who must protect these spaces, collect money from the encroachers and turn a blind eye. “This is why officials are unable to regulate encroachments,” he says.

Markets must treat waste on site, says BBMP

Randeep D, special commissioner, BBMP, concedes managing waste at the markets is a problem that calls for urgent attention.

How do you propose to regulate the waste?

The best way to deal with waste in markets is to have a treatment plant that can treat wet and dry waste. If it is close by people can take the waste there and it can be treated immediately.

Mini-compost plants and bio med plants have been sanctioned for the markets but they are yet to be installed.

Here, waste can be converted into energy. The unit at K R Market is non-functional. Processes have to be decentralised, just like it has been done in Ward 151, where they have two decentralised compost plants called ‘Kasa rasa’ and they also have a biogas unit which produces energy for the hotels in the vicinity. It is easy to treat vegetable waste in markets like Madiwala, K R Market and Shivajinagar, if we find a place to treat it. That is easier than transporting and dumping it elsewhere.

They dispose meat waste in the open…

The ideal solution is to have a separate collection system for meat. Meat cannot be collected in the regular course.

Currently, we don’t have a decentralised system for disposal of meat waste. But we are putting in place tenders for collection and disposal of meat.

What are the health risks of exposure to unhygienic conditions in markets?

Meat or vegetable waste emanates a foul odour and contributes to an increase in air pollution. It clogs drains and sewage points, leading to other problems. The larger public health is affected.

Why is it that none of the waste collection contractors are held accountable?

The minute you allow waste to accumulate, the problem starts. The ideal thing would be to tell people that there is a particular time when waste collectors would come by. Garbage should be picked up from markets at least thrice a day. If all this is not followed, then contractors must be immediately changed.