Civic body has allotted five acres of land near the slaughterhouse

Tiruchi Corporation’s decision to shift the wholesale traders in onion, banana, and jaggery, currently functioning around the Gandhi Market in the city, to the G. Corner Ground on the outskirts, has evoked mixed reactions with civic activists and a section of traders opposing the move.

With the Corporation Council approving, at its last meeting, a proposal to shift the vengaya mandi, vazhakkai mandi, vellamandi, and pazha mandi to G. Corner Ground where the civic body owns about five acres of land, civic officials are expected to clear the site for the purpose soon.

Established more than 70 years ago, the Gandhi Market has been bursting at its seams with even retail traders spilling out to occupy the roads around the market. Road traffic often comes to a standstill as the wholesale mandis are all situated around the market.

The proposal to shift the wholesale traders has been hanging fire for over two decades as the civic body was unable to identify an alternative site.

Corporation officials say the G. Corner ground, where the civic body has five acres to spare after setting up a slaughterhouse for cows, is ideally suited for relocating the wholesale traders as it is close to the highway.

But traders are divided over the issue. While onion traders are willing to shift, banana and fruit merchants are opposed to the move on the grounds that the site is inadequate to accommodate all of them. “We are willing to shift to G. Corner provided the vazhakkai and thakkali mandis are shifted along with us. The Corporation should build pucca shops with at least 1,000 square feet of space. The new premises should have proper arrangements for loading and unloading goods,” says A. Thangaraj, general secretary, Tiruchi Onion Traders’ Association. The onion market, with about 75 traders, handles about 700 to 800 tonnes of Bellary and small onions a day and caters to a wide market in and around Tiruchi.

But banana merchants are not agreeable to shifting a few sections of wholesale traders. “It is a different matter if the entire market is shifted. Until such time, we wish to continue here. The wholesale and retail sections of banana and other fruit markets are inter-dependent and cannot be separated,” says K.P. Palnivel of the Banana Traders’ Association. He rejects the allegation that banana traders were posing a hindrance to road traffic. The corporation, if necessary, can shift the goat slaughterhouse to G. Corner and accommodate the banana market at the place, he says.

There are about 60 wholesale and retail banana traders and most of them require a large space to store fruits. It remains a moot point whether five acres will be adequate to accommodate them along with other traders.

Civic activists also oppose the move saying the site is situated in an awkward junction, with no proper access. “The corporation should elicit the views of the public before implementing the decision. It will be chaos if the wholesale traders are to be shifted here. Both traders and public will be put to inconvenience,” says H. Ghouse Baig, secretary of Golden Rock branch of Consumer Protection Council, Tamil Nadu.

The G. Corner ground is accessible now only by a service road which runs into a dead-end near the railway bridge. Trucks will be forced to use the service road between Tollgate and G. Corner in both directions and this will only make for a traffic bottleneck, he says.

The Corporation should first build an underpass at the junction, as demanded by Golden Rock residents, before considering any move to shift the traders, Mr. Baig says.

N. Ramakrishnan, a civic activist, says five acres will not be adequate all the wholesale traders. “It is an ill-advised move. The Corporation should look to identify a suitable site to set up an integrated market complex to accommodate all wholesale traders, rather than splitting them into different groups,” he says.

Corporation Commissioner V.P. Thandapani says the civic body will build shops for traders. Although there were some additional government land at the site, it is involved in litigation and more space can be provided only after these cases are resolved.