Swahilya and J. Malarvizhi

Located in cleaner surroundings, they are a big relief to shoppers Located in cleaner surroundings, they are a big relief to shoppers

Cut and packaged vegetables, fruits popular with office-goersNew market in Avadi constructed with TUHIDCO loanTraditional markets still command loyalty

CHENNAI: There was a time when residents of Egmore had to take a cycle-rickshaw to buy vegetables and fruits from the Purasaiwalkam market while those living in Nungambakkam bought their greens at Pondy Bazaar or the Ranganathan Street Markets in T. Nagar.

But with the increase in numbers of air-conditioned `vegetable and fruit markets,' in several places, buying trends have changed.

Leelakumari who shifted from Kottivakkam to Nungambakkam, now buys her vegetables from the Ooty Pazhamudhir Nilayam on North Mada Street at cheaper rates.

J. Murugan, owner of the shop in Nungambakkam says that it is an extension of their provision store in the area, with one at Adyar and another coming up at Saligramam.

U. Pratima Rau, who has her own pickles, jams and juice-making unit prefers going to private markets where she finds the quality very good. "There is no need to go all the way to Koyambedu. Given the slush and dirt in the markets generally, I can't even think of going elsewhere during such a hot summer," she says. Surya Greens on Tirumalai Pillai Road, which opened last year, has three branches in Raja Annamalaipuram, Mylapore and Greenways Road.

"Our speciality is cut vegetables and diced and packed fruits," says M. Ramesh Babu, proprietor. Four persons cut the vegetables and pack them into plastic bags and Styrofoam boxes. For the microwave using, office-going generation of women, this comes in handy, he points out. Even as he is speaking, a young IT-professional pops a packet of diced carrots into her basket. Clean surroundings, marked pricing and all varieties under one roof bring in people to these new generation fruit and vegetable markets. But despite these developments the traditional vegetable markets continue to have their loyal patronage.

The Zam Bazaar and Thanithurai markets have become terribly crowded though, complain shoppers. The Triplicane markets have begun to overflow onto the surrounding roads. Traffic snarls have become common during peak hours. Cows on the streets are a threat to vegetable vendors and commuters alike. Members of the Traders' Association said they have not received any complaints but acknowledge that space is becoming a problem. The Koyambedu wholesale market with adequate storage facilities and space does not face any such problems, said secretary, Chandran. He is however worried that several retailers have begun to conduct wholesale selling and buying within the city's markets. Solutions have been proposed to the problem of crowding around markets with varying success. The Sustainable Chennai project, implemented in 1997 and 1998, proposed the staggering of timings and holidays of markets. The suggestion failed to achieve the desired results. The Avadi municipality has tried to clear encroaching vendors off the New Military Road by the construction of a marketplace next to it.