Traders are concerned about their business getting hit due to the checks conducted by the flying squads formed to enforce the model code of conduct.
In the past 10 days, the sale of iron and steel products has reduced by 50 per cent as traders and customers are apprehensive of carrying huge sums of cash, said sources in the Mannady market.
Besides customers from the city, many retail traders from other parts of the State visit the area to make purchases. S. A. Azeez, Secretary of South India Iron and Hardware Merchants Association, said
“We sell iron that is used in building construction and making household products such as cots.”
As most of the purchase is done in bulk, the customers would carry a minimum of Rs.3 lakh to Rs.4 lakh in cash. One tonne of building material costs Rs.38,000 and a customer would need to buy 7-10 tonne for construction. Except for regular customers, traders do not entertain payment by cheque, he said.
In a check held recently, Rs.4 lakh was seized from an employee of a road contractor near Red Hills.
R.Pio Sernando, a road contractor, said that Rs.4 lakh was being taken to the site on Poonamallee High Road to pay transporters.
“The officials seized the money and took it to Tiruvallur tahsildar. Though I gave documents supporting transactions and work order, the officials did not return the cash. They asked me to file petition at the Collectorate and said they had been asked only to seize money,” he said.
The banks are also not willing to give a letter on cash withdrawals, he added. Mr. Sernando has approached the Madras High Court regarding the issue.
K. Mohan, State general secretary of Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangagalin Peramaippu, said that the daily transactions of many small traders have been affected. The authorities concerned must clarify about the documents that need to be carried.
Members of Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangankalin Peravai have also represented to the Chief Electoral Officer about the problems faced by the traders.
J. Prasad Davids, advisor to Southern India Chamber of Commerce, said that many people shift their residences or move to other towns during this time of the year. Transporters are also hesitant to move belongings owing to fear of harassment.
District Election Officer and Chennai Corporation Commissioner D. Karthikeyan said each flying squad in the city screens around 100 vehicles daily.
“We book cases under two provisions. If the person is unable to produce documents, the case is transferred to Income Tax department. If the cash is found to be for enticing voters, we register case under election offences.”
Keywords: Tamil Nadu assembly polls