Who’ll clean Craw­ford Mar­ket’s foun-taint?

Mid Day - - CITY - ARITA SARKAR arita.sarkar@mid-day.com

THE first phase of the restora­tion of Craw­ford Mar­ket is not even done, and it is al­ready com­ing apart, thanks to van­dal­ism and next to no main­te­nance. One of the three foun­tains at the mar­ket, re­stored just last year, is al­ready dam­aged. Some have dumped garbage on the 153-year-old foun­tain, while oth­ers have spat on it and even scrib­bled on the stone plinths.

Just last year, the foun­tain was re­stored at a cost of R5 lakh. At the time, there were sev­eral lay­ers of oil paint that had to be scraped off be­fore the struc­ture could be re­fur­bished, said an of­fi­cial from the civic body’s build­ing main­te­nance (BM) de­part­ment.

The or­na­men­tal arte­fact dates back to 1865, and is the only one of three foun­tains at Craw­ford Mar­ket that is lo­cated in­side the mar­ket build­ing; the other two stand on ei­ther side of the 147-year-old struc­ture. To­day, the foun­tain is laden with dis­carded plas­tic bags, pa­per cups and wa­ter bot­tles. Some peo­ple have dumped their garbage there, while oth­ers have left spit stains and scrib­bles on the stone. Apart from the foun­tain, the lanterns hang­ing from the ceil­ing have also not been cleaned in a long time, and are cov­ered with cob­webs.

Turns out, the R300-crore restora­tion con­tract does not in­clude a main­te­nance clause, and none of the de­part­ments of the BMC are will­ing to take the re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Whose job is it any­way?

Be­fore the restora­tion work was taken up in 2015, main­te­nance of the her­itage struc­ture was the re­spon­si­bil­ity of A ward for all re­pairs cost­ing less than R25 lakh. For any­thing above that, the mar­ket de­part­ment would float a ten­der for the same.

Cur­rently, phase I of the restora­tion project is be­ing over­seen by the BM de­part­ment, and the sec­ond phase will be taken over by the build­ing con­struc­tion (BC) de­part­ment. The sec­ond phase is ex­pected to be­gin later this month, and con­trac­tors have been ap­pointed to carry out the work. Con­ser­va­tion ar­chi­tect Abha Lam­bah is in charge of the en­tire project.

Of­fi­cials from the BM de­part­ment stated that once sig­nif­i­cant por­tions are re­stored, they are handed over to the mar­ket de­part­ment. “We re­stored the foun­tain last year, and till date, we have re­con­structed 585 shops. Once we were done with the work, we handed it over to the mar­ket de­part­ment. Main­te­nance and clean­li­ness is now their re­spon­si­bil­ity,” said an of­fi­cial from the BM de­part­ment.

How­ever, of­fi­cials from the mar­ket de­part­ment begged to dif­fer. “The mar­ket de­part­ment doesn’t do any civil work. We only look af­ter clean­li­ness. Since the dam­age has hap­pened within the war­ranty pe­riod, the build­ing main­te­nance de­part­ment should look af­ter its main­te­nance,” said an of­fi­cial.

Rat­nakar Kar­ale, chair­man of the Ma­hatma Phule Mar­ket Dukan­dar Sewa Sangh, said that de­spite sev­eral com­plaints, the BMC has re­fused to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for main­tain­ing the struc­ture.

‘We pay BMC to do this’

“We have writ­ten to them and have met se­nior of­fi­cials to point out the prob­lems af­ter the restora­tion work was done. There are leak­ages and ex­pen­sive lamps are cov­ered with pi­geon drop­pings and cob­webs. But no one takes re­spon­si­bil­ity. The lamps are so tall that if one of them stops work­ing, it’s not pos­si­ble for us to fix it,” he said.

He added that the shop­keep­ers are will­ing to pay more rent to the civic au­thor­i­ties if they main­tain and pro­vide se­cu­rity for the her­itage struc­ture. “The BMC main­tains gar­dens, which don’t give them any rev­enue. Craw­ford mar­ket is an A-grade mar­ket and we all pay the BMC. It’s their duty to keep it in good con­di­tion,” he said.

For civic com­mis­sioner Ajoy Me­hta, van­dal­ism is more to blame. “If the mar­ket as­so­ci­a­tion takes over the re­spon­si­bil­ity of main­tain­ing and safe­guard­ing Craw­ford Mar­ket, the Cor­po­ra­tion will take it up for re­pairs. We can­not keep re­pair­ing if acts of van­dal­ism con­tinue to dam­age the struc­ture,” he said.

Ar­chi­tect Lam­bah could not be reached for com­ment.


(Clock­wise from left) The foun­tain, re­stored just last year, is al­ready laden with garbage, scrib­bles and spit stains (cir­cled); even the ex­pen­sive light fit­tings have been left dirty and full of cob­webs.

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