Shopkeepers and street vendors in Russell market are facing losses as the Smart city project’s construction work causes problems.
As Anil, a fruit seller, puts half a dozen of bananas in a cover, he says, “Madam! Phir se aana (Madam, come again), with a smile on his face. “It is not just us who are affected by the construction. The meat, flower, and fruit sellers are also affected,” he adds.
“Under the name of smart city, they have only troubled us. There is no accessibility, no proper road to walk and neither any progress,” said Rizwan, a retailer.
The smart city project in Shivaji nagar aims to provide proper infrastructure which would improve the lives of people inthe surrounding areas. Urbanization of Russell market includes building connectivity to the Shivaji Nagar bus station and the proposed metro station. Along with this, the core idea behind the project is to revive the market as the core economic centre of the city.
Amjad, a fruit seller, emphasized on lack of space. “All entry points to the market are blocked. It is very difficult even for us to move in and out of our stall spaces. Earlier, we used to sit freely and spread our supplies in an open spacebut it is all very congested now,” he said.
“The progress of the work is very slow. They first told us that it would take a month but this has been going on for almost two-three months now. For a better future, they are hampering our present,” said Sakina, a shopkeeper.
Durai, the contractor for the smart city project said that for another 15 days, two wheelers cannot enter the construction site. “Smart city projects have the best interest of people in mind. We are working towards helping them but the work progress cannot be pushed to a faster pace,” he added.
“Bangalore is blessed with two city centers-Russell market and the City market,” said B Mahendra, council member of the Institute of Town Planners of India. He further said that since the market has been a part of the city for a very long time, chaos will prevail unless there is development. “However, re- modeling should be done with the consideration of social and political views rather than simply driving development,” he added.
Daily income dropped:
Zaid, a shopkeeper said that the number of people turning up for iftar has also dropped as construction work has been in progress for a while now.
Hamza, an auto driver, stressed on the lack of less passengers. “Russell Market used to have a lot of buyers. It was a place where traders could earn a lot. It is very strategically placed and has a lot of markets under it. We made decent money but now with the blockades in place, the number of people visiting the market has fallen,” Hamza said.
“Also, we do not make much out of the rides we get in a day. It is a hassle as it is affecting our daily income,” he added.
It is not feasible for buyers to get their vehicles into the market. Satyanarayana, a buyer said that, “I used to come here in my car or two wheeler and purchase fruits and vegetables. But now I walk and cannot really buy the same quantity that I used to as it is difficult to carry it home.”
Mohammad Salim, a flower vendor said that they have reduced their garland and flower prices as there is no demand. “Old customers do come and buy but the construction has restrained market exposure to new customers,” he said.
Loading supplies issues:
Suraj, a fruit vendor explained that they cannot bring in tempos due to construction at the market. “Hence, we have to carry our fresh stocks of fruits, vegetables and flowers by hand,” he said.,
“Due to the bad condition of the road, I started to carry my supplies for almost two months now. I have a back-ache because of the same. We stopped getting too many supplies because of this reason and began to order less. Still we are facing losses,” said Aslam, a 60-year-old fruit vendor.
“We purchase 500 kgs of fish and prawns every day. The entire market approximately has 10 tonnes of meat per day. My brother and I carry this from the nearest tempo point to the stall. However, most of them go into waste as there are no sales,” said Mahesh, a sea-food seller.
Mahendra also said that re-modeling should be done with a futuristic view of no congestion. “There are multiple issues that restrict development- social, economical, and political. However, this can be dealt with, if there is a lot of ownership and a common plan that is floored,” he added.