Thursday, November 12, 2009

Another fire waiting to happen?

Another fire waiting to happen?

Chitra V. Ramani
18 months after the accident, repairs not taken up on Jayanagar complex
Leaky roofs, weak grills make it risky for shopkeepers

MLA in the dark about the delay for starting the work


THE AFTERMATH: The building is now another fire hazard as flammable material is dumped in it and shopkeepers have drawn their own power lines.
Bangalore: More than one-and-a-half years after fire damaged over 70 shops in the vegetable market in Jayanagar IV Block Shopping Complex, shopkeepers continue to do business in the charred and frail structure, exposing them as well as the shoppers to risk.

The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike’s promise made in June last year of starting reconstruction within three months has remained unfulfilled.

N. Narasimha Raju, who owns a fruit stall in the market, said that affected shopkeepers received Rs. 50,000 as compensation and the Chief Minister had promised to relocate them temporarily so that work could begin.

At risk
The BBMP officials had said that the project, to be taken up in a phased manner, would be completed in 30 months. “However, it does not look like the work will be taken up anytime soon. Shopkeepers and shoppers here are at risk. The structure has become weak after the fire and the mangled grills may fall and injure people,” he said.

A. Mohan, a flower vendor, pointed to the leaky roof and said that a few shopkeepers had covered the grills with plastic sheets. “The complex gets flooded during the rains and that affects our business. Had the officials taken up the work in time, the construction would have been almost complete by now,” he said.

Fire hazard
Other vendors alleged that roadside hawkers, in the meanwhile, had started dumping cardboard boxes and other packing material on the first floor, which could lead to another fire.

Mr. Raju complained that the authorities had not given power connections to individual shops. “But, we finally drew our own power lines,” he said.

N. Mukund of Citizens’ Action Forum said: “A lot of flammable material is dumped in the complex and the shopkeepers have drawn their own lines. The structure is weak. It is another disaster waiting to happen.”

Mr. Mukund said the BBMP was examining proposals for construction of a multi-storeyed building with underground parking facility. “Since June last year, three consultants have been changed. The project has been in cold storage since then. The officials are still dilly-dallying and not taking any decision,” he said.

Four proposals
Jayanagar MLA B.N. Vijayakumar said that Sundaram Consultants had submitted around four proposals to the BBMP.

“I had organised a public consultation with the residents of Jayanagar and reviewed the proposals. I had even requested the consultants to give more importance to parking in the design,” he said.

He said the project was estimated at around Rs. 95 crore. “I don’t understand the reason for the delay in taking up the project,” he said.

Meanwhile, A.K. Gopal Swamy, Engineer-in-Chief, BBMP, told The Hindu that the project would be finalised in a week’s time. The project included a 700-car underground parking facility, shops for the existing shopkeepers on the ground floor and a state-of-the-art conference hall.


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