Traders to hold biryani fest on March 15, discounts on ware

A year and 12 days after fire ravaged over 150 shops, the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) restored power supply to the iconic Russell Market on Friday.

A flick of the switch brought a 1,000-watt smile to the 480 traders, who had been put to untold misery and expense by being dependent on diesel generators to power the market all these 10 months. Mohammed Idrees Choudhary, general secretary of Russell Market Vegetables and Fruit Merchants’ Association, said they were spending around Rs. 8,000 a day on diesel. “Over the past 10 months, we have spent over Rs. 24 lakh on just diesel.”

After the fire, it was the association that took it upon itself to renovate the market in the face of intense pressure by civic authorities to raze the structure. The traders collected funds by passing the hat among themselves and spent nearly Rs.1.75 crore on the market renovation. This included Rs. 6 lakh on changing the market’s electrical wiring, panelling and installing new meters in accordance with Bescom norms.

The traders also sought local MLA R. Roshan Baig’s help to install security cameras. Already eight closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras have been installed in the first block. According to Akmal Pasha of Meltech Computers and Security Systems, 40 CCTVs will be installed in the market’s six blocks. “We will install a control room on the first floor of the market, besides making one trader in-charge in each block. The IP address of the security cameras will be shared with the local police station,” he said.

Mr. Baig told The Hindu due to “some confusion between the BBMP and the traders’ association”, the power supply had not been restored all these months. “However, after the traders submitted an undertaking to the BBMP, it okayed restoration of power supply,” he said. (The undertaking was that the association would bear responsibility for any accident in the market.)

Association president Naseer Ahmed said that on March 15, traders would organise a biryani fest to celebrate the return of power supply. “We will use the funds so collected to buy diesel. Everybody is welcome and discounts of up to 40 per cent will be offered on all items at the market.”