Doughty traders plug into generators for light source

The lack of power supply certainly took a little bit of the sheen off the grand reopening of Russell Market here on Monday. Undeterred, the doughty traders countered this by switching on two high-power generators of 60 kV capacity.

And now it appears that the market is not likely to get the power reconnection any time soon. According to Bangalore Electricity Supply Company sources, the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has written to the power company stating that as the market is going to be demolished, power supply should not be restored.

The power was cut off ever since a fire gutted 170 shops in the market on February 25. The traders have since been running from pillar to post trying to get it restored.

Initially obliging

A Bescom official said that traders from the section unaffected by the fire had approached the utility for reconnection of power. “We asked them to shift the meters and get the rewiring done. As the power connections had been transferred in the name of individual traders, reconnection was not an issue,” he said.

The utility was also in touch with BBMP with regard to reconnection of power supply. But now the BBMP, which is in the midst of a war of attrition over demolition of the market, is in no mood to oblige Bescom.

Mohammed Idrees Choudhury, general secretary, Russell Market Vegetables and Fruit Merchants Association, accused the BBMP of arm-twisting the traders. It had issued a public notice saying post-fire the market was unsafe. “The officials have been against the renovation right from the beginning. They are now trying to create hurdles for us,” he said.

Mere promise

When traders met Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda, they sought his intervention in getting Bescom to restore the power supply. Mr. Gowda had reportedly promised them it would be done before the reopening.

“However, despite the Chief Minister's assurance, it has not been restored. When we went to the Bescom officers, they said that they have not received any communication from Mr. Sadananda Gowda's office. They also stated that as the renovation had become a ‘sensitive issue', they want a communiqué from the Chief Minister's office,” Mr. Choudhury said.

The association has since been trying to get in touch with Mr. Sadananda Gowda's office. “We have also sought the help of the former Union Minister C.K. Jaffar Sharief. It seems we have run into a wall again,” he lamented.

With the BBMP intent on demolishing the market to construct another in its place, it remains to be seen if Bescom will again be pressured into not supplying power.

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