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Malls for the masses

Malls for the masses

Mumbai's municipal corporation joins the retail rush.

He's attempting to kill two birds with one stone. Manu Srivastava, Additional Municipal Commissioner of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), has a grand plan to set up a chain of shopping malls across Mumbai. The benefits: Besides providing the city's masses with an opportunity to shop under one roof-for vegetables, fruits, groceries, household items, etc-the malls will go a long way in easing traffic congestion by getting hawkers off the roads and into the malls.

"We want to set up convenient shopping sites where you have everything under one roof. You will have vegetable and fruit stalls, one main departmental store, a PCO, barber shop, Xerox shop, a food court and a hawker area," says Srivastava.

 
Organised retail: Over to government
The malls, which are currently at the planning stage, will be set up on the city's old market places, of which there are roughly 100 in the city, and will be branded M-Cube, as in Municipal Malls for the Masses. Srivastava adds that these shopping centres will in no way compete with the new organised retailing formats and brands, such as Inorbit, Big Bazaar and Hyper City. A panel of architects has been set up which, along with the BMC authorities, will be studying the feasibility of putting up the malls at the identified locations. The blueprint is expected to be ready by November, and work on the project will start soon after.

Citing the Crawford Market (officially known as Mahatma Jyotirao Phule Market) in south Mumbai as a reference point, Srivastava says that the malls will be aesthetically designed; the vegetable and fruit stalls will be scientifically designed so that the vegetable and fruits remain fresh. Licences will be provided to the vendors to operate their stalls. Streetside food-stall owners will be accommodated in the food courts.

A provisional budget of Rs 15 crore has been allotted for this project, which may appear like peanuts, but Srivastava stresses that "money is not an issue. We won't be incurring much expenditure in the first year as we will be drawing up plans and the whole tendering process will take place. We will obviously increase the budget during the next financial year."

The malls will also house a separate area called 'Aadhar Kendra', which will be targeted at those below the poverty line. These centres will provide employment to those trained under the poverty alleviation programme, and will operate as a service exchange. This exchange will provide a database of registered plumbers, carpenters, electricians, TV repairers and the likes. The BMC, says Srivastava, isn't looking at M-Cube as a money-spinner. "We will have low rentals that will ensure that commodities and services at these malls are available at cheap rates." So, will this concept take off? Says Damodar Mall, CEO (Innovation and Incubation), Future Group: "We look at this move as a step towards modernisation of retail infrastructure in the city. Consumers will get more choice and convenience."

Published on: Aug 31, 2007, 5:18 AM IST
Posted by: AtMigration, Aug 31, 2007, 5:18 AM IST