A section of traders and shop-owners at the S.M. Street, one of the oldest and busiest trade centres in the city, has made it clear that they wouldn’t be supporting the ‘Heritage Street’ project, proposed to be implemented at the S.M. Street, if the authorities were not ready to unambiguously explain the details of the project, including how and when it would be implemented.
Leaders of the traders, grouped up under the banner S.M. Street Samrakshana Samithy, who held a press conference here on Saturday, said that there existed a great deal of uncertainty about the project as a major section of “genuine traders and shop-owners” at the street were kept in the dark about the project when it was revived recently under the aegis of the UDF government.
The revised State budget presented by finance minister K.M. Mani at the Assembly recently had earmarked Rs. 50 lakh as an ‘initial sum’ to develop the centuries-old S.M. Street in Kozhikode as a ‘Heritage Project.’ Minister and local MLA M.K. Muneer, in the absence of tourism minister A.P. Anilkumar had also convened a meeting with the officials, traders and people’s representatives in the city last week to discuss the details of the project.
“But non of us was informed about it, we only came to know about the meeting from the newspapers,” said C.S. Natarajan, president of the S.M. Street Samrakshana Samithy, which claims to have more than 100 registered and legitimate traders under it from the street. “Who participated in the meeting were not the real representatives of the traders at the S.M. Street,” said Mr. Natarajan, who maintained that a good number of the Samithy members were traders at the street for generations.
Stating that the Samithy was not against the beautification project of the street, Mr. Natarajan said that they would not however allow the authorities to alter the frontage of their shops in an “identical fashion” destroying their unique identity in the name of heritage. “We have a different concept about preserving the heritage,” said Mr. Natarajan.
The project, according to them, should aim to improve the roads, build drainages, construct footpaths, erect street lights, ensure drinking water and promptly manage the waste at the street instead of expending crores of rupees on homogenising the frontages of the shops in the street in the name of heritage.
If the authorities are serious about the project, they should put up a proposal and hold open discussion about it with the genuine representatives of the traders in the street instead of going ahead with the project in a dubious and uncertain ways inviting anxieties and insecurity to the traders and shop-owners in the street, said the Samithy members.