Fear of embellishment is in the eyes of KR market sellers

By Melvin Mathew

INTACHE suggests a major renovation of the market area; sellers worry about business disruption

Next smart cityplans to demolish KR market for the redevelopment, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) stepped in and suggested a major renovation of the market to turn it into a cultural hub. But sellers fear that any attempt to rebuild could lead to their eviction or disruption of business.

INTACH with Institute of Urban Designers India (IUDI) organized a meeting with representatives of the chicken, fish and mutton market to present the few facelift designs made by urban architects. While the designs were modeled to turn the market into more than just a meat market and suitable for a place with great heritage value, there was some resistance from vendors. INTACH has also planned an exhibition of the drawings with various officials from the BBMP and Bangalore Smart City Limited.

While a few of the architects’ designs envisioned a major market transformation, some were minimalist enough to provide access routes to existing buildings. Traders also suggested that any renovation should be designed without neglecting a few vendors. They said the renovations are welcome, but they don’t want too many changes to the existing structure.

Supposed to be built in 1921, KR Market is a historic site in the city housing more than 4,500 vendors. But due to the apathy of the authorities, the market has long been neglected. The BBMP had also sent them eviction notices informing them of the demolition. Under the Rs 17 crore Smart City plan, vendors would be shit in temporary sheds.

“We sell meat and it spoils easily. They can’t expect us to sell meat on the sidewalk. If we leave the shops we will end up on trails just like the fate of the meat traders of Jayanagar and Madivala markets. We don’t want too many changes and just want to restore the existing building,” said one of the meat market representatives. The main demand of these traders is the regular cleaning of the localthe unclogging of drain pipes and a water connection.

Another vendor also expressed doubts whether the meat market can turn into a tourist spot as it might not be welcomed by non-meat eaters.

As day-to-day wage earners, the sellers also had concerns about the time spent on the renovation, as it would affect their livelihood. “Over time, many have abandoned their shops. Because the BBMP licenses people within a 5km radius, we also lost customers. Any renovation will turn customers away and impact the business in the long term,” said Arun Kumar TG, a trader at KR Market.

Traders explained that earlier Bengalurian would flock to KR Market to buy meat, but with meat shops popping up in other parts of town, their clientele has largely been stymied.

“Designs will need to be accompanied by a good policy of relocating traders and continuing construction in phases, which will limit impediments to business. The last renovation attempt was left halfway and resulted in water leaking from the roofs. We were given notices to vacate the premises and no guarantee of getting our spot back. The main problem that these designs should solve is to ensure the water connection in the area to guarantee the hygiene of the area. Pourakarmikaras also refuses to clear the area,” Kumar added.

Kumar added that the facelift could help increase the number of customers. “Because of the unsanitary environment, people avoid KR Market. Previously, there was a sale of 1,000 kg of mutton, but it has been reduced to 200 kg. The use of the available space for cultural activities and restaurants can help boost the business,” he added.

Possible to retain?

A team of experts involved in the design proposals said it would theoretically be possible to keep the structure in its current state. “The investigation must be carried out by experts; our proposal comes with the caveat that we don’t assume anything. According to our observation, a lot of structural reinforcement is exposed, there is a break in the concrete in a few places and the slabs do not appear to be in good condition. There is also humidity which could lead to the degradation of the structure. Theoretically, it could be possible to reinforce these buildings, but this could increase costs,” said an expert.

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