Traders at K.R. Market are working in an unsafe building that lacks even the most basic fire fighting equipment.
The historical K.R. Market isn’t the safest place to be. With hundreds of small shops employing daily wage laborers, the whole place is crowded with shoppers throughout the day. The building, however, is an impending disaster just like Cartlon Tower as the High Court jury pointed out a few months back. The market does not have fire safety equipment installed in its facility.
The Karnataka High Court in March this year sternly warned BBMP that it would order the closure of K.R. Market if the major negligence examined by Fire and Emergency Service (F&ES) Department is not rectified within two weeks. Five months gone, the BBMP has not even started the work.
”K.R. Market is a really packed place. Around forty thousand people are present in the complex at any point of time in the day. We have 1800 shops and around 17 fire accidents have taken place till now, there are no fire extinguishers. We have filed a complaint in the high court. BBMP really needs to install fire safety equipment in the complex.” Said a perplexed G.M. Divakar, the president of Flower Traders Association, K.R. Market.
BBMP, in March this year planned to install safety equipment at a cost of around fifty crore rupees in the complex. They even floated a tender for procuring fire safety equipment. No development was seen in the announced initiative after the initial hullabaloo.
“We tried to float a tender twice but we could not get anyone to take it up because of how tedious the work is. A tender has been floated for the third time. The whole market will be redesigned. The work will start in about 2 months.” Said Jaishankar, the Executive Engineer for the Smart City team under BBMP.
BBMP says they will soon start the work. The Fire department says it is difficult for them to access the area in case a fire breaks out. The Station Police Officer of North Zone, Venkatswamay says, “The road leading to KR Market is really narrow. In case of fire our vehicle won’t be able to go. The road needs to be widened and sprinkler system, the wet riser system needs to be there in the basement of KR Market and smoke detectors should be installed on all the floors. The need to have fire extinguishers as well.”
The BBMP has given a tentative deadline at the beginning of the plan, meanwhile, the traders work in anticipation of getting the fire safety equipment for a safe living in KR Market.