The mayoral council of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) on Friday decided to shift traders from the Park Circus market to Park Circus Maidan and start demolishing the dilapidated market building.
Discussions about shifting traders from the crumbling market have been going on since mid-2022. On Friday, the KMC formally agreed to the shifting for the first time.
The existing market building, portions of which were built in the late 1930s and the rest in the mid-1950s, is now in disrepair.
The western portion, located on Beckbagan Row, is in an extremely bad condition. Several other sections of the market are also in a precarious state.
A 56-year-old stall owner was injured in July 2022 after a chunk of concrete fell on him near shop number 13 in the B block of the market.
Concrete chunks have fallen in many places. Many shops have tarpaulin sheets overhead to avoid injuries if a chunk of concrete falls all of a sudden.
Amiruddin (Boby), the mayoral council member in the KMC in charge of markets, said all the traders will be given space near the Gymkhana Club on Park Circus Maidan.
“We will not disturb the section of the ground where fairs are held or where Durga Puja is held, or the area near the mosque. We will not disturb the morning walkers either,” he said.
“The plan is to shift all traders and then start demolition of the building. It is not possible to pull down the building in phases because of its condition.”
Amiruddin said the KMC’s priority was to bring back all traders once the ground floor of the new building is ready.
Once all traders are brought back, the KMC will continue construction on the upper floors. “We can sell this space though auction and earn some revenue,” he said.
The traders had demanded that the KMC compensate them for the shift as they fear that the business volume would decline after the relocation.
Amiruddin said on Friday the KMC would take only 50 per cent of the current rent during the period when they would do business from the Park Circus Maidan. This, he said, was the offer from the KMC to compensate the traders.
Many municipal markets across the city — there are over 40 — are in a crumbling condition. Thousands of people visit the markets every day and any accident in any of them could leave a good number of people injured.
Amirudduin said the actual shift may not happen immediately as elected representatives will get busy for the upcoming parliamentary elections. The role of elected representatives will be crucial in convincing the traders to shift, he said.