Retail business has brought vendors at Kothawal Chavadi far less remuneration than wholesale would have. Suchi Mishra reports

Retails business has brought losses to vegetable vendors at Kothawal Chavadi. Their dream for it to be a wholesale market was smashed when in 1996 a court order made Koyambedu a wholesale one, leaving Kothawal Chavadi out.

Of the 1000 vendors, only 300 have continued their retail business here, earning a daily wage of Rs. 300 to 400. The market, which now runs from Annapillai Street to Malaya Perumal Street, used to operate from the place where Kanyaka Parmeswari Arts and Science College for Women stands today.

Baskar, a vegetable vendor selling here for 30 years now, says “My daily earnings are around Rs. 200 as a retailer. I used to earn Rs. 500 as a wholesaler 15 years ago. It is difficult to run a family with such meagre amount. I cannot afford good education for my daughter.”

Alaga Swami has been here for two decades. He says: “I get the vegetables from Koyambedu and have to pay for transportation and labour cost. This reduces my profit margin on sales. The vendors who had enough money shifted to Koyambedu when it became a wholesale market. Those like me had no other option but to remain here.” .

Jagir Hussain, a retailer trading in tomatoes says: “My father was offered a 75 sq ft shop at Koyambedu at a cost of Rs. 350/sq ft, but he had no money back then. Today I am left selling on streets here. Sales plunge down during monsoons and I have no place to stock the vegetables.”

Prabhakar has been selling here for 40 years. He has been saving money to shift to Koyambedeu market.

The owner of Nalvar Provision stores on Annapillai Street says: “Everyone has the right to earn, including these vegetable vendors. They remove the carts before we open our stores, causing no trouble to us.”

As per High Court order, the vendors must vacate the street by 12 noon every day.

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