They do not believe in city Corporation’s promises of better facilities

The vendors at Connemara Market, Palayam, remain unconvinced by the city Corporation’s plans to build a sheltered platform beside the market.

The vendors, most of them selling vegetable and fish, are settled in the back of the market. Some have set shop in their makeshift tents and others, in the crammed spaces of the temporary shed constructed for them in 2010. Corporation officials say another meeting, following the one held last week, needs to be arranged to allay fears of eviction and to iron out the alleged misunderstanding that led to the protests here last week.

The better facilities promised have been delayed by over a year, and the vendors naturally flared up when it appeared that the land was going to be turned into a section exclusively for Kudumbashree workers. Corporation officials insist that this is a complete mix-up and the tiled platform spread out over 15 cents will, in fact, mostly accommodate the vendors here.

The Kudumbashree aspect of the plan has been blown out of proportion, says welfare standing committee chairperson of the Corporation, Palayam Rajan. For one, the Kudumbashree women will not sell fish items or vegetables and monopolise all the customers. “They will sell only pickled and homemade food and jewellery items. Moreover, they are under the false impression that the entire area will be just for them. It will be just one corner,” he said.

Ambika, a fish vendor who lives in Kunnukuzhy, points to the interior of the shed occupied by ice-boxes and broken crates, while workers settled in spaces around the periphery. “As it is, the numbers of customers have dropped over the past 40 years. No buyer will venture into the filthy interiors so to get some attention, we settle along the rim,” she says, adding since so many turned up for sale, the women have to work in shifts.

The vegetable vendors have issues of their own, being pushed further into the pathway because of the construction of the platform that started right behind them. Far outnumbered by the fish vendors, those like Asha fear being evicted altogether. Most of them have also been working here for practically all their lives and do not take too kindly to the newer vendors, some coming all the way from Poonthura.

According to Mr. Rajan, the platform will be built in such a way that space will be arranged for them too. The platform will be complemented by an unloading dock as well. An adjacent building, said to be a women’s rest area and toilet, is nearing completion. This will be maintained by Cleanwell workers. A deep-freezer will also be acquired.