Written by Atikh Rashid
Five years after they were forced to vacate the Ganesh Peth market building by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC ), fishmongers in the city’s largest fish market continue to sell their wares on a patch of land next to an open and smelly nullah in Ganesh Peth.
The PMC had promised to construct a new building, with better facilities, for them within 18 months. The cost of the project was pegged at Rs 2.5 crore, of which 2.25 crore was to be provided by the National Fisheries Development Board, Hyderabad, and the PMC would fund the rest. While the PMC has constructed the promised building, it has apparently run out of funds to complete the electrical work in the new structure, delaying the process of handing over the building to fishmongers.
The fishsellers, and buyers, have put up with the unhygienic conditions for over five years. Chances of them moving to the new venue anytime soon appear to be dim.
Market that supplies fish across the city needs a new home
“There are two kinds of electrical work that need to be done at the new building. One is the routine lighting and electrical installations, and the other is supply of power for the cold storage system. We are waiting for funds from the PMC’s Bhavan Rachana Department, which constructed the building. Once we get the funds, the work can be completed in two to three months,” said Abhijit Sathe, a PMC official responsible for electric work of civic buildings.
Currently, over 50 fishmongers operate from each side of the smelly nullah. The shops are makeshift structures, some of them put together with tarpaulin, which share the space with heaps of garbage, on a road dotted with potholes filled with dirty water.
The fishmongers point out that the unhygienic surrounding was bound to affect their health. “We are worried for our health. We have been operating from this dirty location for the last five years. We were told that the revamp of the market will only take one-and-a-half years,” said Nagesh Pardeshi, a fish trader.
The traders said the move to the unhygienic location has cost them considerable business as many customers have stopped visiting them. “The conditions here are so bad, many customers, especially women, don’t want to visit. They buy from other markets, even if they have to pay more there,” said Pardeshi.
Shailesh Pradhan, a buyer who visited the market on Friday, said he had come there after a long time and was shocked at the poor condition of the once popular fish market.
“When I was a child, I used to buy fish with my father from the Ganesh Peth market. I was out of India for many years. Today, when I visited the market after several years, I wasn’t sure if I should buy fish from here,” said Pradhan.
Meanwhile, the new complex is coming up on the over 1,800 square metre plot, where the old market was located. As per the plan, the new building will have parking space for two-wheelers, four wheelers and cycles in the basement, as well as a system for effective collection and disposal of waste from each of the two floors.
The first floor of the complex will have the capacity to house 60 retail shops for fish, 10 for mutton and two for ice-crushing, as well as toilets for customers and sellers.
The second floor will house 22 wholesale shops and office spaces, to be used by PMC officials who will monitor the market. Drainage channels have been constructed to help keep the market clean and hygienic.
While the new building promises to provide better facilities, the approach road to it remains narrow, and is lined with shanties on both sides.