Traders of Gandhi Market continue to show a marked reluctance to move into the Central Market for Vegetables, Fruits and Flowers built by the government at Kallikudi on the outskirts of the city.

The new market, which became functional on June 30, has attracted very few footfalls over the past five days and has not witnessed much business.

A majority of the 300 traders, who were allotted shops and took possession of the keys after paying advance, are yet to move into the new space.

Reason: practical difficulties and poor scope for business.

With the district administration and the police enforcing a ban on entry of lorries transporting vegetables and fruits to Gandhi Market, a piquant situation has arisen. Several traders are now unloading vegetables and fruits brought in by lorries at a private ground on the outskirts of the city and then transporting them to their shops at Gandhi Market in smaller goods vans.

The construction of the Central market at Kallikudi, situated about 12 km away from the city off Tiruchi-Madurai National Highway, has been dogged by controversies.

The new market, established in 9.79 acres, was sanctioned by former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in July 2014, when she represented the Srirangam Assembly constituency, in the wake of persistent demand for shifting the wholesale section of Gandhi Market to a more spacious location.

But as the construction of the market began, the officials took an ambiguous stand and failed to spell out clearly that it was intended to accommodate the traders of Gandhi Market.

The district administration’s decision to shift wholesale traders to the new market, which was opened last year, drew stiff resistance from the traders. A section of onion wholesale traders preferred to move in to their own market at Ariyamangalam but most others remained undecided and opposed to any move shift them.

“I transported vegetables to the shop I have rented at Kallikudi and for two days there were hardly any takers. I had to bring back everything and it was just wasteful expenditure. What can we do when nobody comes to buy our stocks,?”wondered U.S. Karuppaiah, president, Gandhi Market United Corporation Approved Platform and Permanent Shopkeepers Association.

Blaming poor planning on the part of officialdom, Mr. Karuppaiah felt that extensive planning and consultation should have preceded the exercise to shift the market.

There were over 750 permanent shops in the market and over 2,000 platform vendors, all of whom pay levy to the Corporation. But no survey was done to assess the number of traders or their requirements before constructing the market at Kallikudi, he said.

Since the district authorities were citing traffic congestion as the main reason for the shifting, various sections of traders of the market came together and offered to restrict the wholesale trade to night hours and restrict movement of lorries between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. “The district administration has called for talks, we hope the issue will be resolved amicably,” Mr. Karuppaiah said.

M.K. Kamalakannan, president, Tiruchi Gandhi Market Vyaparigal Munnetra Sangam, observed that even after the ban on lorries, traffic snarls continued around the market. “So who is responsible for the congestion?” he wondered.

“We called for a shutdown and the district administration has called us for talks. They say that the Gandhi Market area is required for development under the Smart City project. Why can’t they find an alternative site for the project instead of destroying the historic market named after the father of the nation,” he asked.

Gandhi Market, established in 1940, houses over 725 permanent and pavement shops spread over an area of about six acres, attracting thousands of traders and consumers every day. The market caters not only to the city but also to retail traders from several small and big towns in the neighbouring districts. Wholesale and retail traders have co-existed here for several decades now.

Thevengaiya mandi,vazhakai mandi,vellamandi’ andpazha mandispill over along Madurai Road, Thanjavur Road, Nelpettai Road, East Boulevard Road and Sub-Jail Road.

I transported vegetables to the shop I have rented at Kallikudi and for two days there were hardly any takersU.S. Karuppaiah,Trader

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