Encroachments on passages in Malleswaram market cleared

There was chaos at the Malleswaram New Vegetable, Fruits and Flowers Market on Saturday morning. Torn tarpaulins, broken bamboo baskets and mounds of waste greeted visitors, while a few traders lamented about their losses.

Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) officials, with police protection, began a drive to clear encroachments on the passages and a few unauthorised shops in the market at about 10.30 a.m.

Irate vendors objected to the drive and staged a snap protest by blocking the busy Sampige Main Road.

The ‘rasta roko' by the vendors affected traffic on the surrounding roads. It was only after the police threatened the protesters of using force to disperse them that the vendors moved on to the footpath to continue their agitation. They raised slogans against the BBMP's “highhandedness” in destroying their shops.

In all, nearly 25 shops that had come up on the passages were removed during the drive.

Thimmakka, a fruit and vegetable vendor, alleged that the BBMP had not issued notice to all vendors. “What is the motive behind this sudden operation? If they had given us some time, we would have made alternative arrangements. Where are we to go now? I have incurred a loss of over Rs. 25,000,” she said.

Another vendor, Jayamma, broke down and said that her livelihood had been affected. “I have to pay my children's school fees. Who will compensate the loss of nearly Rs. 30,000 that I have incurred?” she said.

According to M. Thangavelu, secretary of the Malleswaram New Vegetable, Fruits and Flowers Market Traders' Association, BBMP officials had issued notice to only 17 shops. “Vendors should have been given at least one week's time to shift. The association had asked them to clear the encroachment themselves and ensure that the passages are free of obstructions. BBMP officials did not even coordinate with the association,” he said.

He also alleged that BBMP officials were inhumane and took away fruits and vegetables from the vendors. “When footpaths across Malleswaram are encroached upon, why are the officials targeting traders inside the market?” he said.

Upset over elected representatives not coming to their rescue, association president N. Venkataswamy questioned why the BBMP was targeting only the poor traders. “Vending is the only source of livelihood to many. They could have given us more time.”

Complaints

Nagarajaiah, BBMP Deputy Commissioner (Markets), told The Hindu that the department had received several complaints from the public about encroachments on the passages in the market. He said the officials had warned the traders orally and directed them to clear the encroachments. “Some vendors had even bifurcated the shops allotted to them,” he said.

Mr. Nagarajaiah refuted their allegation that BBMP personnel had taken away goods from the traders. “Only items such as benches and tables that had encroached upon the passages were taken away,” he said.

He said that officials of the BBMP and Bangalore Development Authority were planning to create a database of the original allottees. The market is one of the four that will be developed by the BDA.

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