Always on a Sunday
TNN, May 5, 2009, 12.04am IST
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Bangalore: For over thirty years, the Sunday Bazaar has been buzzing with buyers and sellers trying to strike a good deal. There's almost anything and everything available at unbelievable prices. It could be an antique piece of furniture, utensils, electronic goods -- name it and you can get it.
It's one of the most congested weekend street markets in the city, with devoted followers who turn up without fail. Every city has such a market, and it's a way of life for many despite the unorganized set-up. It's the huge demand that's kept it in circulation even into the new millennium.
Now, following a one-off incident, the threat of closure looms large over the bazaar. Should a stray crime case be the reason for ending a wonderful part of the city's heritage?
While the police cite problems with sale of smuggled goods that goes on unchecked here, a few traders also now feel the pinch of this unregulated market space. `There's nothing regular about it. If not close it, at least find a way to regulate it' is their argument.
According to Sajjan Raj Mehta, president, Karnataka Hosiery and Garment Association, the market has not affected much of the regular market in Chickpet as 90% of the wholesale market here is closed on Sundays. However, it's highly congested and unorganized, he says.
"It needn't be closed completely, but we should look at bringing about a few regulations -- the unchecked sale of arms & ammunitions, traffic congestion and taking the traders at the bazaar into confidence. We must look at tackling it. While a few roads like B V K Iyengar Road remain safe, others like A S Achar Street get completely blocked. We must look at a way out, like shifting it to vacant land nearby. Alongside, a few cops to check on the goods sold here would be good,'' Sajjan told TOI.
"It has to be closed,'' insists Labh Chand Mehta, who has been seeing it happen right in front of his shop for many years. "I cannot even imagine entering my office for any work on Sundays. Why should we have a market selling smuggled and stolen goods when there are shops almost everywhere paying tax and selling genuine goods?'' he asks.
Down memory lane
It's been a bustling market in the old business district, selling almost anything and everything for almost three decades now -- scrap to spares, electronics, plumbing material, plastics and even clothes, to name a few.
The market begins sharp 8 am every Sunday and goes on till 6, maybe 7 pm. It's believed to have begun more than 30 years ago with a few traders trying to hawk old stuff in one of Sultanpet's little bylanes. Slowly, it spread to other streets and outwards and now encompasses Sultanpet, Cottonpet, Chickpet, A S Achar Street, Akkipet, Avenue Road, Old Taragupet, Gundopanth Street and parts of B V K Iyengar Road. But the most crowded place is the road leading down from Chickpet police station and bylanes running off it. But, with 90% of the wholesale market in Chickpet closed on Sundays, it hasn't affected the regular traders there much.
This is clearly a law & order issue. However, in general, the laws are very clear against selling anything on the roads and footpaths. But such street markets crop up in areas with a floating population and continue to flourish due to the demand. We had been asked to find alternative locations for `legal hawking zones' but finding space has been the main issue for us to regulate the street markets.
Govindraju, joint commissioner (markets), BBMP
The city police say there's no concrete decision to ban Sunday bazaar. Additional commissioner of police (law & order) M R Pujar said there was some `wild thinking' on banning it. "It's a place where anyone can sell anything and there is no regulation. But, we have not decided on anything,'' he added.