The Department of Agricultural Marketing and Agri Business has completed allotment of shops to traders at the Central Market for Vegetables, Fruits and Flowers at Kallikudi situated on the outskirts of the city.
The department expects around 70 shops, including many allotted to farmers’ groups, to start functioning at the market from Wednesday.
Among the allottees are 136 new applicants, who submitted bids in response to the District Market Committee’s call for fresh applications in June, and 108 traders of Gandhi Market, who were allotted shops at the market in 2018 after they came forward to pay rental dues.
According to sources, 623 shops have been alloted in ground and first floors of the complex. This time, shops on the ground floor and the one directly above them on the first floor have been allotted to applicants in pairs or bunches.
All allottees have been issued individual allotment letters. They have been asked to remit six months’ rent as advance, take possession of shops and begin operations latest by September 12. “We hope about 60-70 shops will start functioning from Wednesday,” an official said.
With a public interest litigation pending before the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court, seeking opening of the market, the department is keen to make the market functional.
The Bench, in an interim order, said Gandhi Market shall remain closed till disposal of the petition.
A section of wholesale traders of Gandhi Market, for whom the market at Kallikudi was originally intended for, have been opposing any move to shift them out. They claim that the Kallikudi market complex is far away from the city and the shops do not suit their requirements.
In June, the District Market Committee called for fresh applications from traders for allotment of shops at Kallikudi market after revoking the allotment of 288 shops to traders, many of them from Gandhi Market, as they failed to function and renew the agreements.
Subsequently, the committee allotted 104 shops to 52 Farmers Interest Groups (FIGs), Farmers Producers Groups (FPGs) and Farmers Producers Organisations (FPOs) at the market.
Some of the groups have set shop at the market recently but in the absence of poor patronage suspended operations.
Plea to CM
Meanwhile, a delegation of Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangankalin Peramaippu, led by its president A.M. Vikarama Raja and general secretary Ve.Govindarajalu, called on Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami in Chennai and urged him to take steps to get the interim injunction of the High Court vacated to pave the way for the reopening of the Gandhi Market, which remains closed in view of the pandemic.
“With the easing the lockdown norms and resumption of public transport services, the government should also take steps to protect the interest of traders,” they said in a petition.