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Fire destroys a portion of British-era Mahatma Phule heritage market

Mahatma Phule Mandai, the 138-year-old heritage vegetable market in the old city of Pune caught fire around 12
By Nadeem Inamdar, Pune
PUBLISHED ON JUN 11, 2021 09:42 PM IST

Mahatma Phule Mandai, the 138-year-old heritage vegetable market in the old city of Pune caught fire around 12.30 am on Friday and the flames were brought under control within 20 minutes.

According to the central fire brigade officials, fire broke out in the inner roof of the market during midnight, but the exact cause of the fire could not be ascertained.

No casualties were reported in the incident and the total damage was being assessed.

PMC fire chief Prashant Ranpise said that the British-era structure with a wooden interior caught fire around midnight.

Accordingly, the fire brigade rushed to the spot but by then, some of the interiors had been burnt to ashes.

The fire was brought under control with the help of three fire tenders and the cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained, he said.

Mahatma Phule mandai (formerly known as Lord Reay’s market) is the biggest retail vegetable market in the city is housed in an iconic building from the British colonial era in the Shukrawar peth. The construction of the building had started in 1882 and it was completed in 1886.

Fire officer Pradeep Bedekar said, “The old wooden structure on the eastern side of market caught fire. The flames spreading fast due to the wooden structure and more fire tenders, water tankers and a Devdoot vehicle were rushed to the spot to douse the flames. We brought the situation under control within 20 minutes. Some wooden compartments in the market were damaged due to fire which is suspected to have taken place due to a short circuit. However, we are still investigating the other reasons behind the fire,” he said.

A massive fire broke out at the Chhatrapati Shivaji market on the night of March 15 which destroyed at least 25 shops in the fish and chicken section of the market. Fire tenders from the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and Pune Cantonment Board (PCB) were rushed to the spot and the fire was brought under control within an hour’s time.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Market, a grade I heritage structure, has been a bustling marketplace since its construction in 1885 by British army officer Lt Gen John Ross as per the design by Gen Cecil D’Urban La Touche and WM Ducat.

The heritage structure still awaits restoration owing to lack of funds from Pune Cantonment Board (PCB) which is facing a near bankruptcy of central government funds for the past three years.

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