It appears that the Corporation did not get things right at the new Flower Market. First it was the issue of finding shopkeepers to let on rent the shops there and now it is evicting those shopkeepers on charges of failing to pay the rent.
The Corporation at Rs. 3 crore constructed 27 retail shops and 18 wholesale shops along with an auction hall on Mettupalayam Road to enable flower vendors carry on their business with ease. But for a long time the Corporation was not able to let on rent the shops. People interested would turn for auction but would not pay the required amount to confirm the deal.
This time, though, the Corporation had encountered a problem in that those who had taken on rent the shops had paid the prescribed 12 months rent in advance as deposit but had not cared to pay the rent for the subsequent months.
The Corporation informed the Council on Wednesday last that the persons who had taken on rent shops 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17 and in Block I and shops 19, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 37, 41, 42 and 45 in Block II had not paid the rent. And had not occupied the shops, either. And it planned to initiate action against those shopkeepers and also call for fresh bids to those shops. Sources in the Corporation said that the tenants had not paid rent for eight to 10 months.
This was against the rules that allowed the Corporation to seal the shops if the tenants had not paid the rent for two months and re-auction the shops if the tenants had not paid the rent for six months.
The sources said that they suspected a cartel to be behind such actions.
The cartel had earlier tried to force the Corporation to reduce the rent of shops by preventing outsiders from taking on rent the shops.
The Corporation had struggled with fixing rent for the shops in the market and this came to the fore in December 2011 when members of the Finance and Taxation Committee expressed anguish over the way the civic body dealt with the issue.
The sources said that the Corporation would adopt a wait and watch approach to see the response to the next few tenders to let out the shops.
If it was not encouraging, it would go ahead and throw open the flower market for all kinds of businessmen and not just the flower vendors.