BMC shifted its officials, but left fisherfolk at Shivaji Market

The fisherfolk at the civic-run Shivaji Market in Fort continue to operate out of the rundown building, which has been declared unsafe for inhabitation, because the BMC has failed to provide them alternate space to do business.

The wholesale and retail fish trade at Shivaji Market generates a daily revenue of Rs 5 crore. File pic

While the BMC’s offices on the top floors of the building were vacated and the officials shifted elsewhere more than a month ago, after the Dockyard Road building collapse, the 400-odd fish traders are still doing business at the ground floor of the tumbledown four-storey market at Palton Road, a stone’s throw from Crawford Market.

The BMC apparently is looking for a place to accommodate them and is in talks with the railway authorities to give them a place at Carnac Bunder. Earlier the BMC was thinking of moving them to Crawford Market, as a temporary arrangement till their building was reconstructed.

But the space it was intending to allocate them was too small, leading the fish wholesalers and retailers to snub the offer and stay put at Shivaji Market.
The main issue standing in the way of their rehabilitation is zero availability of a single chunk of space in south Mumbai. According to sources in the corporation, officials know that the traders would not move outside of south Mumbai, even if they are given the same square footage as they currently collectively have. 

An income of more than Rs 5 crore is generated every day from the entire market - including wholesale and retail purchases, and the revenue would continue to flow in only if the they operate from the island city. Ayaz Sarigat, a wholesaler at the market, said, “We are still here and we refuse to move until we get some other place. We have asked the additional commissioner to shift us to Carnac Bunder, and she has finally written to the railways. We need an accommodation here in south Mumbai itself and the BMC has promised to give us that.” 

Additional Municipal Commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar said, “We are looking at a feasible place to accommodate them. They have written to the railway authorities to grant us permission to allow them to use the space available at Carnac Bunder. Last week, we wrote to the railways as well, and are waiting for their reply. If their response is yes, we will shift them. If not, we will have to continue looking at other options.”

A senior Central Railway official said that the railways had received the BMC’s letter and added, “It is unusual that the civic body has sent us a letter asking for land at a time when they own most of Mumbai’s land.”

Market slump
The Chhatrapati Shivaji Market building on Palton Road, BMC’s A ward, was issued a notice declaring the disintegrating market a C2 category building meaning it needed urgent repairs

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