Monday, September 14, 2009

Ignored by BBMP, the once teeming Public Utility Building on MG Road is falling apart

Ignored by BBMP, the once teeming Public Utility Building on MG Road is falling apart

Call it the original mall of Bangalore. For over three decades, the Public Utility Building (PUB) on MG Road was the happening shopping complex in the city.
But the old complex, despite its vantage point, has taken a beating from the glitzy malls and now hardly manages to attract 500 people a day.
Ignored by the officials of Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), the PUB has not seen any renovation in the last 36 years, and the demands of businesses housed in the building - ranging from replacing the old mosaic flooring to new false ceilings - have fell on the deaf BBMP ears.
The PUB has altogether 56 shops that trade in garments, handicraft, clothing accessories and consumer durables.
And since the work on Metro commenced, business has dwindled further, according to the PUB Shopping Complex Traders Association (PUBSCTA).
“Our demands are not being fulfilled by the officials. Traders want to put up false ceilings and replace old mosaic flooring with granite or vitrified tiles on the ground and first floor. Ninety per cent of businesses do not make money like they used to some years ago,” said PUBSCTA president Abdul Azeez. Last year, the building caught fire and despite repairs, looks ugly with hanging electricity, telephone and other cables in the corridors.
“We have sought permission for renovation and replacing old floors. We are ready to do it ourselves. We did give a proposal too, but none of the officers have responded to our demands,” he said.
The association, which recently spent Rs 2.5 lakh for repairing the toilets, is ready to renovate the building if the BBMP grants permission.
“If the BBMP allows us, we are ready to execute the project. Ironically, a cinema hall in the same complex has been allowed to renovate,” he said.
Sanjay Mehta, owner of Kanchan Readymades, said, “Our business has been affected after the metro work began. Though it’s a BBMP property, we are ready to renovate it. But officials are not ready to accept our proposal,” he said.
“We don’t have any plans for renovating the building,” said a BBMP official attached to the revenue section (markets).
All the shops in the PUB are rented, with a 10 per cent enhancement every five years, as per a 1983 resolution. The shop owners now pay Rs 15 per sq ft and want rentals to be replaced by lease. “We did ask the BBMP to lease out the shops instead of renting them out. But it was refused by the government, though the council had agreed to it,” Azeez said.

Shopkeepers at Bangalore’s first mall want to renovate it themselves, but the BBMP will have none of it


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