The Uzhavar Sandhais (farmers' markets) in the district functioned on Wednesday despite a Government Order issued by the Public (Elections-I) Department on March 30 declaring it to be a public holiday, under Section 25 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881, in view of the Assembly elections.

According to Agriculture Department officials, the Collector, U. Sagayam, had asked them to keep the markets open on the polling day too for the benefit of the people at large. One official of the department alone was required to be present in each of the markets while the rest were posted on election duty in various polling booths. The officials were also told clearly that the farmers need not be compelled to come to the market on Wednesday.

It was left to their volition. Even those who came were allowed to wind up early thereby enabling them to cast their votes. Customers were informed about the working of the markets over the public address system a day before.

R. Ganesamoorthy, Deputy Director of Agriculture, who was on duty at the Anna Nagar Uzhavar Sandhai here, said that a total of 145 shops functioned in his campus.

“Of these, 120 to 130 shops would be filled up during weekdays and a little more during weekends. Today, 58 shops have been occupied and there is a good response from the public also,” he said.

Similarly, 53 out of 156 shops in the Uzhavar Sandhai at Bibikulam were filled up on Wednesday. “Usually we close down on election day. This is the first time we remained open and it bore fruits as there was a steady flow of customers. Our closing time is around 5.30 p.m., but today it might be much earlier,” said P.M. Rajendran, Assistant Agriculture Officer, in charge of the market. According to him, farmers from Sholavandan, Mullipallam, Chellampatti, Chekkanoorani, Mavilipatti, Tirumangalam, Vadapazhanchi, Anuppanadi, Tirupuvanam and other places utilised this Uzhavar Sandhai for selling their produce.