Traders want garbage lifted regularly; officials want waste to be dumped at designated spots

While the Tiruchirapalli City Corporation is mulling over a proposal to renovate the Gandhi Market in the city in a phased manner, a few major problems affecting the market came into focus at a recent meeting with a group of traders’ representatives convened by the mayor and the corporation commissioner.

The market, established in 1940, houses over 725 permanent and pavement shops spread over an area of about six acres, attracting thousands of traders and consumers every day. The market caters not only to the city but also to retail traders from several small and big towns in the neighbouring districts.

The corporation, in recent years, has been struggling to ensure its proper upkeep. Dilapidated shops, worsening sanitary conditions, poor amenities, indiscriminate and rampant encroachments and the perpetual traffic congestion make a visit to the market a harrowing experience. Many brave the conditions to visit the market as they are assured of low prices for vegetables, fruits, and other commodities.

Garbage accumulation remains a major problem. The market generates about 70 tonnes out of the 400 tonnes of solid waste collected by the corporation every day from the city. Although the corporation officials say that the garbage was being transported from the market right through the day, solid waste can be seen strewn all around the market. Motorists have to negotiate a cesspool of garbage and slush in front of the side entrance on the Thanjavur Road. Cattle rummaging the vegetable waste is a common sight.

Traders and corporation officials often indulge in a blame game. While officials and elected representatives find fault with traders of dumping garbage indiscriminately, traders say the civic body has not deployed adequate number of workers to clear the wastes. “Traders should take some responsibility and dump the garbage at the designated places to facilitate regular collection and transportation by garbage trucks.

After all, we are extending the service free of cost to the traders,” says a councillor.

But traders insist that the corporation should lift the garbage regularly and refuse to take responsibility.

“Garbage accumulation is a big problem. But traders cannot be blamed for this and asked to clear the garbage. The corporation should deploy additional staff and consider taking up the cleaning operations during night,” says U.S. Karuppiah, president, Gandhi Market Approved Platform and Permanent Shops Traders United Association. He even suggests that a weekly holiday could be declared for the market to facilitate periodic cleaning.

Many traders point to absence of adequate and clean toilets in and around the market. Though a modern toilet has been built outside and a couple elsewhere in the market, their unhygienic condition has become a deterrent. “People cannot enter the toilets; so bad is the stink. Steps should be taken to clean them regularly. Amenities at the market need to be improved urgently,” says U.S. Kalimuthu, president, Gandhi Market Vyaparigal Kazhagam.

Traders are blamed for the indiscriminate encroachments and elected representatives blame the police for failing to clear encroachers obstructing traffic. Platform vendors occupy a part of the road in front of the market and even a bus shelter.

Consequent to the meeting, corporation officials said additional sanitary workers are to be deployed at the market soon.

Drinking water arrangements have been made. But there are still many unresolved issues and traders hope the corporation will follow up on the initiative.

There are 22 traders associations in the market. Some are sore that the corporation called the traders at short notice and many associations were not represented at the meeting. The Corporation should convene a meeting with all associations to discuss the issues, says Mr. Kalimuthu.