Aluva municipal council has approved a plan to construct a 40,000 sq. ft building spread over two floors to house around 200 vendors
The stench of rotting vegetables at the Aluva market turns worse as a brisk breeze from the Periyar picks it up and swirls it around the entire area where hundreds of people are engaged in transactions late on an October morning when business is usually slack and the crowds are shrinking.
The situation is worse, especially on Wednesdays and Saturdays, which are the market days, says V. P. Thankachan, a veteran wholesaler. He says the crowd and the wrangle for space among traders often take away the room needed for goods carriers and other vehicles.
The situation further deteriorates when it rains as the ground is covered with a thick layer of slush. There are heaps of waste around the market place, which make life harder for both the sellers and buyers.
But, things finally appear to be looking up for the market, with the municipal council approving a plan to construct a 40,000 sq. ft building spread over two floors which will house around 200 vendors.
Work to begin soon
“We will begin work on the building this year itself,” says municipal chairman M.T. Jacob. The Rs. 8-crore project will partly be financed by the vendors themselves, who will collectively raise Rs. 2.5 crore as refundable advance to the municipal authority, he says.
The municipality is also in the process of negotiating loans from agencies such as Housing and Urban Development Corporation, Kerala Urban and Rural Development Finance Corporation and city-based Federal Bank.
However, the municipal council’s plan has come under flak from the Opposition, which alleges that the previous council, led by the Left Front, had finalised plans for a makeover of the market but the plans were not taken forward.
K.V. Sudhakaran of Ward XI, the lone CPI (M) member in the present council, says the municipal council could have negotiated for cheaper loans or even grants from development agencies under the government.
He alleges that the majority of Congress (I) in the council had created a situation in which the opinion of Opposition councillors does not count.
Mr. Jacob appears eager to push the project forward and expects the new market building to end the reign of unauthorised sellers occupying space in the market. He says the municipal authority is determined to evict unauthorised sellers.
The new structure will be built in such a way that goods carriers can reach the first floor.
Both the floors will have shuttered and open spaces according to the requirements of the sellers.
Aluva market, over the last five decades, has turned into a key centre for distribution of vegetables and bananas to the northern and eastern parts of the district.
When asked about the conditions of the market now, Mr. Jacob says the problem of waste has been tackled properly. Waste from the market is cleared every alternate day, he adds.
Meanwhile, the new fish market, which was officially inaugurated in May, has not yet been opened to fish vendors. Mr. Jacob says the facility, built with financial backing from the National Fisheries Development Board and implemented by Kerala State Coastal Area Development Corporation, has not been handed over to the municipal authority.
One of the reasons for the delay in handing over the market to fish vendors is that a biogas plant, part of the original plan, has not been completed.
The municipal chairman says there was also a difference of opinion between the municipal authority and the fish vendors on the rate of rents to be paid.
He says though the municipality did not incur any expenditure in building the facility, the land on which it is located was given by the civic body. It is worth around Rs. 10 crore and the money has to be recouped at least in part, he adds.