Traders in Sultan Bazar Market in Hyderabad downed shutters on Friday to protest against the decision of the Telangana State government not to change the original alignment of Hyderabad Metro Rail.
A day after Larsen & Toubro announced that there will be no change in the alignment at Sultan Bazar, the traders observed the strike and took to streets.
Holding placards and raising slogans, they sat in front of closed shops. They asked Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao not to go back on his promise to save the market.
“KCR. Save Sultan Bazar” — read most placards. The protesters raised slogans against L&T Hyderabad Metro Rail officials. There was an argument between the protesters and police. A few traders were arrested.
“We still hope the chief minister will come to our rescue and save our livelihood,” said a trader. Another said they were ready to sacrifice even their lives to save the market.
Sultan Bazar, a dingy street in the commercial hub of Koti in central Hyderabad, is a popular and crowded garment market. The metro rail is likely to affect 300 shops. Traders said hundreds of people, including hawkers, will lose their livelihood if the alignment was not changed.
Before coming to power in the newly created state, KCR had strongly opposed metro rail plans in Sultan Bazar and also in front of state assembly building. After assuming office, he had announced that the alignments will be changed to save heritage structures, places of worship and large number of properties.
The work in front of assembly was stopped last year while no work was taken up in Sultan Bazar and the old city. The government had asked L&T to change the alignment and work out alternate routes. However, following a detailed study, alternate routes were not found feasible.
V. B. Gadgil, chief executive and managing director, L&T Metro Rail Ltd, announced on Thursday that the metro would be built as per the original alignment plans in both Sultan Bazar and assembly areas. However, in case of old city, the government is holding talks with Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), which is strongly opposed to the original route plan.
The construction major is building 71.16 km of elevated Metro rail in public-private partnership on three corridors in the city. Though the project was originally estimated to cost Rs.14,132 crore, because of the delay and other factors the cost is reported to have escalated by about Rs.4,800 crore.
As per the original plans, the metro project is scheduled to be commissioned in July 2017.