It was late night on Wednesday, 16 March 2023, when a couple of men making merry over a bottle of liquor entererd into an altercation, which resulted in a murder. All of this happened within a few minutes and the location was a deserted complex in Hathipol, the heart of Udaipur.
While the police is investigating the murder, UdaipurTimes team took the initiative to explore the condition of this complex, which is surrounded by hundred of residencial units and was one of prime vegetable and fruit markets of the walled city. Yes, we are talking about the Sabzi Mandi complex at Khatikwara, Hathipol.
This complex, which is worth crores and is the property of the Udaipur Municipal Corporation, has been lying deserted since more than two decades. It is now a den for alcoholics and anti-social elements, which include history sheeters and murderers. While Udaipur is attempting to sprint on the smart city track and is seeking hype and high ranking with haphazard constructions and renovations in the walled city, this complex is a living example of how a prime property has taken to ruins due to the careless attitude of the city administration. The building is in ruins and is filled with filth.
Why did the complex meet such a fate?
The premises, which housed a lavish vegetable and fruit market was renovated nearly two decades ago. Post renovation, poor management of the premises and supposedly shady dealings in granting licenses to the vendors resulted in lower numbers within the complex and subsequent elimination of business in the complex. As per the stake holders, once the complex was renovated, licenses were granted to the shopkeepers. Those who were the initial occupiers of the complex did not get licenses and new vendors began to enter the market. It was initially decided that while vegetable vendors will be towards the interior side of the complex and fruit vendors will set up their stalls on the external end of the perimeter. However, stalls began to be set up outside the complex, resulting in the vendors vacating the premises, which subsequently led to its complete closure. This premises is now frequented by drunkards, bookies, history sheeters and anti social elements and the surroundings have turned into a public urinal.
The complex is flanked by channel gates at both ends, but neither of the gates is manned or closed. There is neither any caretaker nor guard. Its condition resembles a deserted ruin. In such an environment, all the traders of Hathipol are also worried because of the filth and stench and the fear of alcoholics coming every day. They are wary of the fact that they have to do business under these circumstances everyday. Traders, residents of the area and those selling vegetables/fruits outside the vegetable market have appealed to the administration to make arrangements for cleanliness and proper arrangements here.
What do the nearby shopkeepers say?
Hatim Ali Taj, Director of Royal Bags, told that Hathipol market is like the heart of Udaipur and is the main center for tourists. The biggest inconvenience here is parking. The now deserted vegetable market, which has lost hopes of being resurrected, can be converted into a parking, both for businessmen as well as tourist to the area. He als also suggested that the Hathipol vegetable market can be converted into a grand market, 40 shops can easily come out in this building and parking can also be built under all these shops. This will solve the parking woes of the area as well. This can be the source of immense revenue to the UMC. The income of the rented shops from the market will be in addition to that from the parking lot. A proper toilet should also be made in the vegetable market so that tourists, local people and laborers for their convenience, he added.
Jinendra Mehta, Director of Sajawat, adds that people who drink alcohol and remain in the building for the whole day. This spoils the whole atmosphere of the area, which has shops as well as residences. Along with this, there is also the problem of dirt and bad smell. All the traders are very upset due to this. He also suggested that the building can be converted into a multi story market with parking.
Director of Readymade Center Tauqeer Hussain says that we requested the administration to pay special attention to this ruined building. If the building is renovated, the vegetable vendors standing with their carts in front of shops all across the Hathipol chauraha can get organised space within the buildiing once again.
The Director of Gujarat Toys, Mohammad Hussain told that in the evenings this deserted building has not light source..it get very dark withing and just ousdie the building. This will result in mugging, murder or eve teasing in the area, he added.
Local residents disturbed
Former President of Hathipol Khatik Samaj, Dayalal Nimavat told that there is filth here every day. Drunkards lie in this ruined vegetable market all day long. The Municipal Corporation neither gets this vegetable market cleaned nor is it looked after. Due to all these inconveniences, the vegetable vendor has to sit outside.
Local resident Himmat Lal Khatik tells that since the time of Maharana Pratap, there used to be Bakra Mandi (vegetable market) here. In the beginning, everyone used to sit here, nowadays no one sits here. Since then it is lying deserted, there is no one to stop the drunkards and vagabonds frequenting the building. He also said that the residents have complained to the city council earlier but status quo continues.
What do the Vegetable vendors have to say?
Ravi Shrimali who is originally from Calcutta has been in Udaipur for 16 years and sells vegetables in a shop near this market. He said that the UMC should renovate the building, which does not seem to be much of the task as the infra is already there..only cleaning is required. Licenses need to be re-issued to the vendors so that they all can shift inside the market. A security guard(s) in the building can ensure that no unwanted elements enter the building and also that the surroundings of the building remain clean.
Muhammad, who sells vegetables, tells that now there is not as much sale here as before. Because all the customers buy from vendors outside. All these vendors should be made to sit inside from outside and the license of whoever sits outside should be cancelled. Along with this, he said that this vegetable market should be cleaned so that the customers do not shy away from coming here.
Shahnaz Ayub, the local Councilor of Ward 56 said that the vegetable market in Hathipol, which has been deserted for the past several years, is most unsafe for women. She is afraid to come and pass through here at night. She complained that for the last 3 years she has been presenting this case in the Nigam Board meeting but no one takes congniscance of the matter. Mohammad Ayub, a former Councilor of the Ward (56) even claimed that the Municipal Corporation is not even aware how much property is under their control in Udaipur. Ayub, who was Councilor from 2004-2009 said that this building is an example of how mismanaged the properties of the Udaipur Municipal Corporation are. Deliberately ignoring such a high revenue generating property in the middle of the city goes to show the careless attitude of the UMC and its Councilors.
Ayub stressed that the Mayor and Dy Mayor should take up the case of this building and similar properties rather than working on hyping the smart city work, which anyways is not a part of their responsibility. He alleged that the Mayor, Dy Mayor and even the Chairman of the Construction Committee of the UMC are not even aware that such a building exists here. Smart City executives at the State and Central level should visit Udaipur to see how ages old properties have been treated in Udaipur over the years.
When the team of Udaipur Times tried to contact the officials of Udaipur Municipal Corporation on the issue of Hathipole's abandoned vegetable market, they replied that they have no information about this matter. This substantiates the claim of the residents, the local Councilor and shop keepers that the UMC is unaware or, rather taking the excuse of ignorance to avoid this matter. The executives of the UMC said that they will get further information in this matter and take appropriate action to solve this problem.
To join us on Facebook Click Here and Subscribe to UdaipurTimes Broadcast channels on GoogleNews | WhatsApp | Telegram | Signal