Not again! Chaos returns to Commercial Street

Not again! Chaos returns to Commercial Street

Its footpaths are dug up yet again, and traders say business has never been this bad

After a makeover that took 11 months, the street was opened in July. By August, the road was a mess again.

Commercial Street is in a shambles again, with broken footpaths and frequent water logging. Business is at an all-time low, say shopkeepers. 

After a makeover that took 11 months, the street was opened in July by then chief minister B S Yediyurappa. By August, the road was a mess again, despite its colourful cobblestones. The budget for the makeover was about Rs 5.5 crore.  Faiq Asrar, who opened textile store Jauhar eight months ago, says the footpath has been dug up frequently in the last eight months. “Every time we believed the work was done, they dug it up again,” he says. 

There has been a 30-40 per cent reduction of walk-in customers over the past month, says Abdul Kader, manager of fashion store Awesome. “When it rains, potential customers stay away because they don’t want to wade through the puddles,” he says. 

Parking woes

Parking is creating additional problems, Kader says. “The widened footpath has led to a narrower road and frequent traffic jams. There is space only for one vehicle at a time,” he says. 

Violet John, manager of a bridal store in a basement, says parking shouldn’t be allowed on the street. “Currently, parking is allowed on either side of the road on alternate days,” she says. 

A kidswear store is facing similar problems. “We barely get one or two customers a day, but rents are rising,” the shopkeeper tells ‘Metrolife’. 

Water troubles

When V Vittal, proprietor of Poshaak entered his menswear store two weeks ago, he found it flooded, with the water coming up to his ankles.

“The not-so-smart Smart City project has failed to build a proper drainage system. The tiles on the roads and footpaths were laid in a hurry, without ensuring that underground drain pipes were connected, and that led to flooding of basement stores,” he says. 

Violet and her colleagues had to scoop out water using buckets in the mornings. “We stocked our clothes at the back of the store so that they wouldn’t get ruined,” she says. 

Mayank Rohatgi, secretary, The Bangalore Commercial Association, says work is in progress on several streets in the vicinity, and things should get better soon. “Water rushes to Commercial Street from other places as it is low-lying when compared to Infantry Road, Kamaraj Road, and roads in Shivaji Nagar,” he says. 

The new team handling the relaying includes experts who worked on the Church Street First project. “Our demands are addressed better, with better material being used now,” Rohatgi says. 

What Shivajinagar MLA says

Rizwan Arshad, MLA for Shivajinagar, says the footpath relaying will be completed by December 2021. “Unprecedented rains added to the woes. A lot of earlier problems are being addressed now,” he says.  Rizwan says he will visit the street soon. “Commercial Street is a heritage area and Bengaluru has a deep bond with it. These problems have to be taken seriously,” he says. 

‘Concrete slabs replaced by granite’

Vinayak Sugur, chief engineer, SmartCity project, says the concrete slabs used for the road are being replaced by granite ones. “These should last for at least 50 years and are similar to the ones on Church Street,” he told Metrolife.

Vehicles welcome

B R Ravikanthe Gowda, joint commissioner of police (Traffic), says Commercial Street will not be designated ‘pedestrians-only,’ as was done with Church Street for some time. “We plan to strike a balance,” he says. 

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