Sellers at the market refuse to pay property tax, demand better infrastructure
Frustrated over the lack of basic amenities for several years now, traders at the Koyambedu wholesale market complex have decided to refrain from remitting property tax.
The civic agency had recently raised the property tax for nearly 3,100 shops in the flowers, fruits and vegetables markets complex. However, traders are protesting the payment of the tax until the civic agency ensures an improvement in the infrastructure of the market that is spread over 300 acre.
Traders complain nothing much has improved since the market was started in 1996. There is no proper street illumination or water supply in the market. Garbage clearance too was erratic, traders complained. They said that they were asked to pay arrears.
Wholesale traders in the vegetable market recalled they had shifted from Kothwal Bazaar in the 1990s to Koyambedu market expecting spacious shops with better environment. However, they had been forced to carry out their business in an unhygienic environment.
M. Thyagarajan, a wholesale tomato merchant, said traders like him were already overburdened with the maintenance and entry fee charged by the market management committee falling under Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority.
“We are paying a monthly maintenance fee at the rate of one rupee per square feet. The market has shops ranging in size from 600 sq ft to 2,400 sq ft and we also have to renew trade license once in three years,” he said.
Merchants also have to pay an entry fee of Rs.100-Rs.200 for every vehicle that brought produce.
S. Chandran, another wholesale merchant said they managed their water needs with supply from borewells and packaged drinking water. “We had objected to the levy of property tax in 2004 on the same grounds. But, the market remains in a bad shape,” he said.
Members of the Koyambedu market licensed traders’ association said they were willing to pay property tax for the current period if the civic body improved the infrastructure. However, they want the civic body to reduce the arrears. They also plan to make a representation to the government.