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Underground market will uproot us: Vijayanagar street vendors

Rayan Mitra

A regular afternoon in the Vijaynagar street market, which will soon be a history

Bangalore, February 27, 2018:The Vijayanagar street market, west Bengaluru, is on the verge of extinction as the BBMP plans to replace it with an underground air-conditioned market that will be constructed on the lines of Delhi’s Palika Bazaar.

The street market, which has functioned for over four decades, offers a wide variety of items in a stretch of nearly 500 meters. From shoes to tomatoes, one can buy anything.

Nearly 150 vendors will have to leave if the BBMP’s ‘Palika Bazaar’ plan is executed. Proposed by housing minister M Krishnappa, the new market will have 45 shops.

Ahmed, owner of a juice stall informed The Observer: “We have been asked to vacate once, but nobody moved. There has been no development since.”
A middle-aged woman who owns a fruit stall said she has done business there for 27 years. There is nowhere she can go if asked to leave.

Shops on the opposite side of the road are safe because they are not included in the Palika Bazaar plan.

Asif, owner of Galaxy Communications, a shop on the other side, said: “BBMP has asked them to vacate the place. I think it’s a good decision. These people block the road. Congestion will be avoided if it’s replaced with an underground market.”

The Palika Bazaar plan has been severely criticized. Activists say the proposal will destroy a blooming micro-economy.

BBMP executive engineer Bheemesh said: “There are high-tension wires under the streets. We have approached Bescom for approval (to remove them). As soon as we get the green signal, we will begin the process.”

Asked about the deadline to complete the work, Bheemesh chuckled, “No idea”.
BBMP PRO L. Suresh said: “It is still in a discussion phase, so I cannot provide much information on this.”

Amit, who runs his father’s shop after his death, remarked: “The city is full. Where will we go? This is all we have. Malls have reduced our business. An underground market will rob our source of income.”

Jahagirdar, owner of one of the stalls, said: “I don’t think we will be allotted shops. We will leave when we are asked to.” A customer in the shop said: “There are people who depend on these vendors for their livelihood. The city has already been commercialised to a great extent.” It would be criminal to destroy a thriving micro-economy, he added.