Only 200 of the more than 500 traders at Bunder are said to have licences
Commenting on the continued resistance to the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee yard at Bykampady by a large section of wholesale traders based in the old market at Bunder, APMC president K. Krishnaraj Hegde has sought a political solution to end the impasse.
He was addressing a press conference called on Thursday to lay the foundation stone for development works at the Bykampady yard.
Mr. Hegde said that less than 200 of the 500-plus traders at Bunder had secured trade licences at the APMC. “But most of these licensed trades continue to illegally operate out of Bunder while issuing bills to their customers in the name of the APMC,” he charged.
The rumblings of discontent among wholesale traders at Bunder started in October 2006 when the APMC announced its intention to shift the entire wholesale trade in government-notified agricultural produce to its sprawling 81-acre yard at Bykampady. The move was aimed at providing an atmosphere that would protect farmers from exploitation by traders and monitor the trade in agricultural produce.
Trade in agro-produce at the Bunder market was first banned on April 27, 2007. But the ban was later lifted by the present Government prompting farmers to move the court. At present, nearly 80 per cent of traders are operating from the old market. “There is no way of regulating the trade there and taxes can be easily evaded in the narrow by-lanes of the old market very easily,” Mr. Hegde said.
Mr. Hegde said that the traders, an economically powerful lobby, were enjoying extensive political patronage. “The lack of political will to reign in the traders is evident. It is time for political forces, cutting across party lines, came together in the larger interest of farmers and society,” he said and alleged that political interference was used whenever some action was being initiated against the traders.
Pointing out that 11 of the 18-member committee had been elected from the farmers constituency, with only one spot reserved for traders constituency, Mr. Hegde said, “This is essentially a case of traders taking an anti-farmer stand.” Charging traders with adopting double standards, he pointed out that when the APMC was first started, traders refused to pay the market cess and went to court saying that the infrastructure at the yard was extremely poor. The Karnataka High Court ruled in favour of the traders and asked APMC authorities to improve the infrastructure before charging the cess. “Since then, we have spent over Rs. 30 crore on infrastructure. Now that infrastructure is not a problem, they are raising petty issues and saying that Bykampady is too far away from city,” he said.
“This is one of the best APMC yards in the State. It is situated off a national highway and has good connectivity to air and sea ports,” he said while charging vested interests with trying to undermine the APMC.