Central vegetable market presents a shabby look

Ridden with a host of issues, including insufficient drinking water facilities, it urgently needs a revamp


Once inside Madurai’s central vegetable market near Mattuthavani, you are greeted by putrefying mass of waste, an unbearable stench and an absolutely chaotic environment. The market was built almost a decade ago in order to shift vendors who were originally located on North Avani Moola Street and back then, it came across as a sprawling and spic-and-span facility.

But over the years, the market has become run-down and wears a shabby look. There’s a host of issues that the market faces and both vendors and buyers are quite unhappy with hordes of complaints.

Dubbed as the biggest market in the city, the place houses about 900 vendors who are registered in seven different associations and is undoubtedly a one-stop shop for all your grocery needs. There are are a couple of stores selling kitchen provisions. However, there are hardly any infrastructure for the volume of people who use the market daily.

Everyday, the market is visited by around 25,000 buyers on an average, says Thavamani, president of one of the vendors’ association. “At weekends, holidays and festivals, the crowd surges to reach around 40,000. The volume of business also increases on special days,” he says and adds that the infrastructure is grossly insufficient to match the market’s footfall.

The Corporation had placed plastic water tanks atop cement platforms along the aisles between the shops but there are only three or four tanks that remain today. “Even those tanks are not regularly cleaned and maintained. Hence, we are forced to bring water from home,” says Segappi, a vendor from Karumathur. “A lot of the tanks had stopped working, due to clogs in pipelines. The Corporation did not clean them and eventually the tanks also went missing.”

Equally bad is the toilet facility in the market. There is only one complex of male and female restrooms that are not enough to cater to the vendors. On top of it, the toilets are poorly maintained.

“A special female toilet with the facility of napkin incinerator was built but remained either locked most times or dirty, causing hygiene issues,” she says. The drainage from the toilets were seen bubbling out and pouring on to the road inside the market.

“To improve the condition, a ‘namma toilet’ was also constructed but it did not make much difference as maintenance always took a back seat,” says another vendor.

There’s a Corporation canteen inside the market run by a private contractor and people complain that the place has no hygiene and serves bad quality food. “We have nicknamed it as ‘marana vilas’,” says Thavamani. “The canteen is ridden with rodents and offers sub-standard. No one even drinks tea or coffee there,” he adds.

Vehicles entering the market are given a token for ₹ 30 but there’s no designated parking space inside. “The Corporation has built hundreds of extra shops where there are no vendors now. That space can be converted to two-wheeler and car parking. Though we have given petitions before, no action has been taken so far,” says Thavamani.

The lack of an earmarked parking space has resulted in haphazard parking of vehicles inside the market, causing congestion and chaos. Trucks, load autos carrying vegetables jostle for space often.

“It’s unfair to levy a parking fee when there’s no proper parking space inside. This is a way of looting people by the contractor and Corporation,” says S. Devaki, a buyer.

For the vendors, sub-letting is a major problem. “Though originally the market was to house wholesale commission shops and retail outlets, the commission shops have now shifted to the Paravai vegetable market,” says Krishnapandi, from a vendor association.

“As a result, the commission agents sub-let the space allotted for them to retail vendors for a higher rent amount. The rent we pay to the Corporation has been increased to ₹1,200 per month now. But, that apart, we also end up paying daily rents to agents who sub-let the shops,” he alleges and says that there’s a need to regulate the market so that vendors and buyers can benefit.

The Corporation has been composting vegetable waste collected from the market through aerobic method at a unit inside the compound. There are 11 conservancy workers who claim that they collect around 1 tonne waste every day that’s shredded in an electric grinder and then composted in 14 troughs, over 45 days. After which, the natural manure is sold in packets by the Corporation.

The compost facility has obtained positive response from the vendors and they say that the unit is doing a decent job. “It can be seen a step towards better waste disposal but there’s always room for improvement,” says a buyer.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 2:58:51 AM |

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