Chief Minister skips ceremony but that doesn't stop celebrations at Russell Market

There was a spontaneous eruption of congratulations and warm hugs. Given the occasion, expensive dry fruits were distributed. The traders of Russell Market wore broad grins as the renovated market opened for business. There was a dampener though: power supply has still not been restored to the 85-year-old market which was partially damaged in the February 25 fire.

Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda did not turn up, though he was supposed to do the honours. But there was no shortage of VIPs. The former Minister Mumtaz Ali Khan, Shantinagar MLA N.A. Haris and Chamarajpet MLA Zameer Ahmed Khan came, escorted by members of the Russell Market Vegetables and Fruits' Merchants' Association.

Mr. Zameer Ahmed Khan made it a point to tell reporters it was unfortunate that neither the Government nor the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) had come forward to help the traders. He commended the association for taking the initiative in pooling its own funds and reopening the market in a short span of time.

‘No need for a mall'

Mr. Haris, who arrived later, said Russell Market was a landmark and the BBMP need not demolish it and construct a new one. “The traders have ensured that the market is restored. Bangalore does not need any more malls. The Government must instead try to preserve the old, traditional markets,” he said.

According to Syed Abrar from K.K. Infrastructures, who supervised the renovation, the structure has been fortified and is now stronger than before. (K.K. Infrastructures was also involved in the construction of the Bengaluru International Airport.) “We have taken steps to strengthen the fire-ravaged structure. Seventeen iron pillars which were damaged have been replaced. We have strengthened the ceiling with concrete,” he said. He also said that the BBMP, instead of going by the report by Civil Aid Techno Clinic Pvt. Ltd., should get another consultant to give a stability report on the renovated market.

After more than two months of virtual unemployment, the traders were thrilled to be back in business. Mustaq Sharief, a vegetable vendor, said that he was happy to be back in his shop, originally allotted to his grandfather. He observed that the renovated market was attracting more people and hoped that the footfalls would translate to business.

Another vegetable vendor, Abdul Hafeez, said that the last couple of months were depressing for him.

“After being jobless for two months, I feel invigorated to be back. Within two hours after opening, I have made business worth Rs. 600,” he said. A pleasantly surprised shopper, R.T. Nagar resident Geetha Sadanand, said that she was astonished at the speed with which the market reopened.

“The traders have renovated it very well. It looks much better and is cleaner than it was before,” she added. Another visitor, Mohammed Ahmed from Iran, was impressed with the renovated section. He, however, lamented about the lack of amenities and cleanliness in the other areas of the market, particularly the fish and meat sections.

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