Traders want integrated market complex at Gandhi Market ; high land cost is the obstacle in getting such a large site: Tiruchirapalli City Corporation

Tiruchirapalli City Corporation’s recent announcement on shifting parts of the wholesale section of Gandhi Market has failed to enthuse the trading community. Last week, Mayor A. Jaya had announced that the onion wholesale traders would be shifted to Sengulam Colony Market. The corporation, she had said, would also build some shops for the banana wholesale traders at the overhead tank complex at Viragupettai.

Although both the moves were aimed at decongesting the Gandhi Market area, traders remain critical of the corporation’s sporadic announcements on one plan or other to shift the wholesale traders in bits and pieces without consulting stakeholders. “We are fed up with the frequent announcements made by the corporation in the media. There has been no consultation whatsoever with us so far to assess our requirements or elicit our suggestions,” say representatives of traders associations.

The corporation move comes following several unsuccessful attempts to identify a suitable site for shifting the wholesale section of Gandhi Market to the outskirts over the past couple of decades. Just a few months ago, the civic body had announced a plan to shift the onion and banana traders to G.Corner grounds near Golden Rock only to drop it later after running into certain practical and legal problems.

The recent announcements from the corporation indicate that it has effectively dropped its previous plan to shift the entire wholesale section of the market to the outskirts. Over the past decade, the civic administration has considered various sites for shifting the market and a few years ago, decided to move the wholesale market to Ariyamangalam by acquiring a piece of land owned by the Aavin.

But the Madras High Court Bench struck down the sale of 3.39 acres of land belonging to Tiruchi District Cooperative Milk Producers Union (Aavin) to the corporation. The “sale” of the old dairy farm to the corporation was pushed through hurriedly during the previous government despite stiff opposition from milk producers. Prior to this, the corporation had planned to shift the wholesale markets to a site off the Chennai Bypass Road, also close to Ariyamangalam. The proposal too had failed to take off.

Left with no other option, the corporation now seems to toying with the idea of shifting the wholesale trade in different groups. “It is impractical to shift the wholesale traders in bits and pieces to different parts of the city. We have about 40 wholesale traders and 22 retail banana traders. We need a huge space to unload nearly 10,000 banana bunches which come to the market every day and auction them. It is not possible to shift some of the shops to Virugupettai,” said K.P. Palanivel of Plantain Traders Association at Gandhi Market.

Banana traders insist that the corporation find a suitable site to shift the entire Gandhi Market to the outskirts. “We are willing to move out if the entire market is shifted. It is not possible for us to separate the wholesale and retail trade,” he said.

Onion wholesale traders too have been willing to move out. But they too feel that it would be better if all wholesale traders or the entire market was shifted. “The corporation should plan and go in for an integrated market complex rather than trying to split the wholesale and retail trade,” said a senior representative of the onion traders’ association.

Corporation officials say the prohibitive land cost was the main impediment in getting a site large enough to accommodate all the wholesale traders in one place. Although agencies could be found to fund the construction of the market, no agency would give funds for purchase of lands, they said.

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