Malleswaram vendors take their protest to BDA’s doorstep

Scores of vegetable and fruits traders took their grouse literally to the Bangalore Development Authority’s doorstep by holding a mock sale of their ware before the agency’s headquarters here Friday. The objective was to pressure the BDA to drop the so-called development plans for the Malleswaram market.

The traders, who oppose the razing of the market to make way for a five-storey commercial complex, have formed the Traditional Markets’ Protection Struggle Committee and are taking on both the BDA and BBMP. The BBMP and BDA have entered into a memorandum of understanding to develop the market.

Coming a cropper

Addressing the protesters, the former mayor M. Ramachandrappa pointed out no “development” plans of any traditional market had succeeded in the city. “Public funds that have been spent on the development of these markets have gone to waste. A broke BBMP has mortgaged K.R. Market, one of the oldest in the city. The new markets, as proposed, will benefit neither traders nor citizens… they will only help the contractors.”

Rakshith Shivaram, advocate and committee convenor, said that citizens would have to “spend Rs. 10 (for parking) even if they have to buy part of a coriander bunch for Rs. 8.” “Malleswaram already has two malls — Orion and Mantri Square — that are less than two km away from this market. This residential area is already over-commercialised and doesn’t need another mall or commercial complex.”

RTI activist B.M. Shivakumar, who has been fighting the proposal since 2008, said that the government should protect the interest of the citizens, especially those from poor socioeconomic backgrounds. “The government should build more Janata Bazaars and not waste public funds on commercial complexes or malls.”

The BDA had failed to collect Rs. 13.25 crore in rent from traders of its own complexes. “This development of markets is a ploy to exploit the public spaces,” he said.

The committee members met BDA Commissioner T. Sham Bhat and submitted a memorandum protesting against the razing of the market.

Mr. Shivakumar said Mr. Bhat advised them to submit a memorandum to the BBMP, which owns the market, as well.

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