Almost all varieties of dry fish such as nethili, vala, vanjiram and all types of podi karuvadu are available here

Over the last half a century, much has changed in and around the busy Basin Bridge junction. But a row of tiny shops selling dry fish (karuvadu) continues to have its address intact. It is this row of shops that marks the beginning of Walltax Road from the Basin Bridge junction.

The area, which is known as Moolakothalam, is popular for its dry fish market. There are about 30 shops that sell several varieties of dry fish. Shopkeepers said the market has been in existence for more than 50 years. D. Amirtharaj’s association with the market began in 1967 when he set up a shop here. “People, especially those in north Chennai, associate Moolakothalam with this market. The place has both wholesale and retail shops,” he said.

Almost all varieties of dry fish such as nethili, vala, vanjiram and all types of podi karuvadu are available here. Dry fish is supplied from various places, including Porbandar, Gujarat, Mangalore, Kerala and Kasimedu.

“The rates of dry fish vary from time to time. Vanjiram is the costliest dry fish priced at Rs. 300 per kilo. People mostly buy nethili and vala karuvadu,” he said. The market is closed on Friday.

A wholesale dealer said that he belonged to the fifth generation of his family in the business.

“Business was very good when the Andhra Pradesh bus stand was functioning just opposite the market as the movement of people was more then. Now, sales are good on some days and poor on other days. But, this has not stopped new shops from coming up,” K. Habib, another shopkeeper, said.

Dwindling supply

With the ban on fishing in place for the next 45 days, shopkeepers said that supplies will begin to dwindle soon.

“When the supply comes down, the cost will go up. Sales is usually less during summer,” S.T. Meeran, who set up a shop three years ago, said. N.R. Babu is a newcomer to the market. “I set up this shop just two weeks ago. I sell dry fish for at least Rs. 1,500 per day,” he said.

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