Fule Market: A masterpiece messed up

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 16 May 2017 11:12:38

By Rahul Dixit and Manish Soni,

Once termed as the biggest market in Asia, the Fule market, designed by celebrity architect late Sheodan Mal Mokha, is craving for maintenance and repairs

The authorities concerned and stakeholders of the Smart City have learnt ‘smart’ ways of shirking their responsibility

IF ONE needs a lesson in ruining aesthetic, historic structures in the city turn to the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC). The civic body can come out with its own guides, full of apathy, on turning magnificent edifices into a shambles. The prime example is not far away -- just visit the Mahatma Fule Market popularly called as Cotton Market.

Regarded once as the biggest market in Asia the Fule market was a totally covered structure operating in all seasons. The present structure is a sorry shadow of what was designed as a great symbol of modern and futuristic ideas.

At a time when Nagpur is galloping towards becoming a Smart City, when the city fathers are planning WiFi, better roads, communications, Metro rail, green buses and other amenities, there is absolutely no provision to make the gigantic Fule Market smart and people friendly.

The civic body has miserably failed to follow its basic mandate to maintain the structure of Fule Market for public safety. The tall and beautifully designed market building is in a dilapidated condition. Designed by celebrity architect late Sheodan Mal Mokha, the market is crying for repairs.

Fule Market was inaugurated by then Union Home Minister Yashwantrao Chavan in 1969. The market was constructed for vegetable vendors, lodges, and the allied business like grocery shops, eggs, cooler, and disposable items. It is spread over 86,000 sq ft land having 270 shops and 144 ottas for vegetable vendors. However, the vegetable vendors never used these ottas as their rent was high in the year 1969 and in protest they started selling their vegetables outside the market. Till now, they are not working from inside the market.

NMC’s callous approach is also instrumental in destroying the market. As the civic authority started messing up things the market started losing its sheen, its newness, its attraction and its appeal.

NMC is earning around Rs 80 lakh per annum from the market -- Rs 40 lakh from the shopkeepers and Rs 40 lakh as parking charges. However, is not spending a penny on the upkeep of the market.

“The market has kept going from bad to worse. The walls are peeling off and its roof is corroded. The glass windows are totally shattered. Its main and side doors are working while other iron doors have been stolen. The outer walls of the building have never been painted in last 30 years,” a shopkeeper told ‘The Hitavada’.

The vegetation growing on the building is making the structure weak. Stray dogs, cattle and other animals freely move around in the filthy conditions posing health and other hazards for the citizens.

The market has turned into an open garbage bin with choked gutter line, unusable urinals that have emerged as breeding grounds for mosquitoes. There is no provision of good and clean toilet blocks for women and also for men.
“The sewage chamber was not cleaned for several months. It is now overflowing, turning the entire area into an open gutter. The condition is pathetic in rainy season,” a regular visitor to the market said.

Encroachment by the shopkeepers has reduced the visitors’ space. During summer, the cooler shop owners encroach the entire space creating jam for the visitors. Surprisingly, the
civic body has not bothered to take action against these

Citizens are reluctant to visit this once prime market of the central Nagpur as dirt and filth flow freely in the basement of the complex, making life miserable during monsoon.
“Pickpocketing, especially by well-trained youngsters, is a big problem. It raises a big security problem for women,” lamented a woman.

The civic body is planning to demolish this market and construct a huge complex worth of Rs 500 crore. Maintenance of the market requires only Rs 5 crore but the cash-strapped civic body is still dragging its feet on the proposal. Guardian Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule also held a meeting at Ravi Bhavan to decide on the repairs of the building but the civic body did not pay heed to his orders.

The Health Department is responsible for cleanliness of the market, however, it has turned a blind eye towards it.
The vendors do not use their shops situated in the market as the concrete platforms are damaged. Moiz Burhani, Secretary of Mahatma Fule General Market Merchants’ Welfare Association, has demanded provision of transparent plastic polymer sheets on the rooftop to protect from sun and rains.

“The old wired glass aluminum angles are broken and rain water gushes in the market. In a Smart City, the market should also be smart. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Guardian Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule and NMC can arrange funds to renovate the biggest public market of the city. If Energy Minister can install solar panels on the roof top, it can save green cover of the city,” he added.

The game of passing the buck continues. If not a solution the authorities and stakeholders of the Smart City have learnt ‘smart’ ways of shirking their responsibility. In the process the grand old Cotton Market is waiting for a natural death. If that happens the city fathers would only be responsible for the resultant calamity.