Today, this delay has not only led to traffic issues, but also increased the threat of mishaps, much like the blaze that gutted nine godowns on Thursday this week. The mushrooming of illegal furniture shops and godowns has made the situation worse, observed several locals.
The Timber Market was proposed to be shifted, and a reservation for it was marked in the 1987 development plan (DP). But since then, things have not moved at either the civic administration’s level, nor that of the traders.
Now, after Thursday’s fire, the discussion to move the timber godowns to the fringes has begun again, with local politicians raising the demand with the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). As per civic officials, they will revive the shifting plan, which is endorsed wholeheartedly by the fire brigade department.
Today, the market has around 450 shops and godowns, all packed into the densely populated locality, and surrounded by crowded slum pockets as well.
“The relocation is most welcome, provided that a proper, permitted and well-equipped market is given to us. All due facilities as well as security precautions should be in place at the new location,” said Nanchand Oswal, the owner of a shop that was gutted in this week’s fire.
The market has become a tough spot to operate not just for shop owners, but also transporters and weight-loaders. “The roads here are very narrow and many heavy vehicles transport goods to this market. Even locals find it difficult to commute here. Moreover, basic facilities like public toilets are not in place for people,” said Jalindar Mali, one such transporter.
Pune district guardian minister Chandrakant Patil, who visited the spot on Friday, said, “Shops as well as houses adjacent to them have suffered in the fire. The residential properties should be rebuilt.”
Meanwhile, a political blame game has also erupted. Mohan Joshi, state vice president of Congress, said that the BJP should have swung into action much earlier to remedy Thursday’s blaze situation.
“It was one of the biggest fire mishaps in the history of the city. Firefighting was going on for hours. The guardian minister should have acted fast to control the situation,” he said.
Ramesh Bagwe, another Congress leader, added that most shops here are made up of tin sheds. He said, “The shifting of shops will take time. In the meantime, safety is a must. If concrete shops are built, the seriousness of mishaps can be averted. Once a new market is built, concrete structures can be demolished and the place vacated.”
PMC administrator Vikram Kumar told TOI, “A meeting with locals and stakeholders is planned for next week. Discussions on shifting will be carried out.”