After the devastating fire that engulfed Sara-Sahara and Manish market, shopkeepers are being asked to shell out double to rent new stalls; shops in the vicinity are also charging premium rents  

With no end in sight to their gloom, shop owners at Manish and Sara-Sahara market are facing an arduous task in locating new premises. Taking advantage of the lack of rental space after the fire, majority of the shopkeepers say that shop owners in the vicinity are soliciting higher rentals that is way above the market rate.

Traders, most of them in debt, who are already facing enormous losses, grumble that galas which were earlier available for Rs 8,000 per square feet are now selling at Rs18,000 plus. Moreover, merchants who have decided to relocate to neighbouring Crawford market are also in distress. Rates at Crawford market have also seen a sudden surge in rental prices.

Earlier, a gala in Crawford market that was available for Rs 8,000 to Rs 15,000 is now quoted at Rs 20,000 to Rs 25,000. Even owners there are taking advantage of the state of affairs and trying to make the most of the situation, allege shopkeepers. 

Voices of anguish
Majority of shopkeepers have shifted to neighbouring markets -- Ashoka market, Mizan market and A S market at Mussafir Khana -- in the hope of recovering losses. Raju Mali, who has now rented a stall at Mussafir Khana complained saying, "After the fire gutted our stall in Sara market, we have leased a shop here for Rs 18,000. The same shop before the fire was going for Rs 8,000."  

While few other traders, whose shops were not harmed in the fire, are unexpectedly facing the brunt of their landlord, as they have been asked to vacate their shops. This sudden request comes after those whose shops were gutted in the fire are now ready to rent shops at a premium.  "Since shopkeepers from Sara-Sahara and Manish Market are searching for new shops, old shopkeepers are being asked to vacate the premises. We pay Rs 8,000 monthly rent for a 4/4 sq ft area to the owners, but as they are getting more than Rs 25,000 monthly from the other shopkeepers, we are facing the brunt of their greed."  

The Other Side
Homi Raj, a broker from the area, said, "Since there are no shops left to rent in the area, prices are rocketing. Shops that were being rented at Rs 150 per sq ft are now going for Rs 200 per sq ft."