Shops in the Kovilpatti market area opened their shutters from 6 p.m. on Wednesday following Monday’s protest closure over the rental hike imposed by the municipality.

Grocers, traders of essential commodities, vegetable vendors and fruit sellers had joined the protest.

K. Muthuraj, Vice President, Kovilpatti Market Traders Association and councillor of ward seven, said the traders had unanimously objected to the 200 percent hike in shop rentals.

Around 347 shops in the market area remained closed over the hike.

Against the backdrop of increasing maintenance costs, the traders are unable to bear such steep rent charges, he said and added that the traders have sought 50 per cent reduction in the hike.

S. M. Kannan, Treasurer of the Association, said the traders rented the shops on a daily basis. Based on room space, rents ranging from Rs. 12 to Rs.35 were collected daily. Initially, there were 36 shops in the market, which was established 40 years ago in the same locality.

But now the market comprised 347 shops paying a daily rent and more than 40 shops on a monthly rent, he said.

C. E. Chinnadurai, a rice merchant, said he had paid a daily rent of Rs. 30 for his shop but now he had to fork out Rs. 90 per day. "I had started my business here during 1986 on a rent of Rs.10 per day", the merchant said.

To sort out the problem, a meeting was convened as per the directive of Collector Ashish Kumar at Kovilpatti on Wednesday evening.

Revenue Divisional Officer, Kovilpatti, T. Kathiresan, presided over the meeting, which was attended by Commissioner of Kovilpatti Municipality, Varadharajan, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Kovilpatti, P. Rajendran and the Kovilpatti Tahsildar.

The officials suggested a 60 percent hike in rental rates. As of now the traders have agreed, but the subject would be placed before the council for approval, Mr. Kathiresan said.

A meeting was convened as per

the directive of Collector

Ashish Kumar