More shops open at Kallikudi central marketby S. Ganesan
With the Department of Agricultural Marketing and Agri Business and the district administration giving a push to make the Central Market for Vegetables, Fruits and Flowers at Kallikudi functional, more shops opened at the complex on Monday.
While a set of shops, allotted to farmers groups, were opened last week, many of the traders who have rented shops at the market recently started business on Monday. District Collector S. Sivarasu inaugurated the sale at some of the shops.
According to sources in the Department of Agricultural Marketing and Agri Business, 351 shops out of the 830 in the market complex were open on Monday. This included 126 out of the 207 shops allotted to farmers groups and 225 out of the 623 allotted to traders.
Under the latest system of allocation adopted by the District Market Committee, traders were allotted shops in pairs by bunching shops on the ground floor and ones directly above them on the first floor. All traders, who were allotted shops after the recent round of bidding, were asked to take possession of the shops and begin operations by September 12 on paying the rental advance. However, since September 12 happened to be a second Saturday, many allottees paid the advance only on Monday and more traders will open shops in the coming days, officials said.
With a public interest litigation seeking the early opening of the market pending before the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court, the department was keen on making the market functional.
The district administration has also promised to operate bus services as some of the farmers groups, who set shop in August, were forced to suspend operations due to poor patronage. “We sustained heavy losses then as the market was not attracting consumers. So, some of us had to shut shop,” said a representative of a farmers group adding that unless the G. Corner temporary wholesale market was closed, there will not be much business at Kallikudi.
But some of the groups said that business was picking up. “Sales is gradually picking up – we are selling vegetables worth ₹2,000-2,500 a day now. People from surrounding areas are now coming in, thanks to the publicity,” said M. Thangavel, president, Manikandam-A Farmers Producers Group.
The Central market, situated about 12 km away from the city off the Tiruchi-Madurai National Highway, has been at a centre of a row ever since it was opened in September 2017. Wholesale traders of the Gandhi Market in Tiruchi, for whom it was meant, had been refusing to shift to the market on the grounds that it was too far away from the city and did not suit their requirements.
The High Court Bench, in an interim order, had directed that Gandhi Market shall remain closed till disposal of the PIL and traders of the market have been urging the government to get the injunction vacated.
On Monday, M. K. Kamalakannan, president, Gandhi Market Vyabarigal Munnetra Sangam, maintained that the temporary markets at six places, including the wholesale market at G.Corner, would continue to function. The temporary markets were opened after the closure of the Gandhi Market in view of the enforcement of lockdown on March 30.