Marina vendors say many old-timers left out, want fresh count

Process under way: Over 1,400 vendors of the Marina beach have been found eligible for smart carts and have submitted identity cards issued by the Greater Chennai Corporation.   | Photo Credit: R. Ragu

In November 1966, when the ship, Stematis, ran aground and large crowds gathered to see the spectacle, P. Kuppan, now 76, was a youngster and remembers having pushed his mother Ponnammal’s peanut cart to the spot to sell their wares. “Since my father died when I was young, my mother took up this business,” recalls the old-timer, who now sells sugarcane juice behind Gandhi Statue on Marina Beach.

Having weathered many a storm in his life, not finding his name on the list of vendors on the Marina came as a blow to him.

“I am saddened by this. I took up the sugarcane juice business before my son was born. He has been selling popcorn. Both our names are not on the list; so are those of Ayyasami, Anusuya, Selvam, Rathnam and many others in our bay. I pray to Goddess Periyapalayathamma that we be able to vend our goods again on the Marina,” Mr. Kuppan said.

Vendors on the Marina have been complaining that they have not been enumerated properly and many names have been left out by the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC).

Following a direction from the Madras High Court, the GCC has made several attempts to bring order to the place, including by enumerating the shops and trying to bring in stalls that look uniform, and even conduct elections for the associations. However, the vendors say all these have been done in a haphazard manner.

P. Muthu, president, Tamil Nadu Nethaji Subash Chandra Bose Amaippu Saara Matrum Kattumaanam and Meen Pudi Thozilallar Paadhukaappu Peravai, who himself is a vendor and has been aggrieved by this process, has approached the court seeking a re-enumeration. “Certain GCC officials have just made up a list of vendors, they are just random names. We want a fresh enumeration under the direct supervision of the court,” he said, adding that vendors having merry-go-rounds, balloon aim and shoot stalls, too, should be allowed.

“They are not allowing certain categories, we are told. Those who ran shops earlier should be allowed to vend again,” he added.

K. Bharathi, of the South Indian Fishermen Welfare Association, said, “These shops, which are not permanent structures, have helped families educate children and settle them in their lives. They have not become affluent but continue to live in rented accommodation. During the lockdown, since the shops were shut, many went hungry, and on hearing that, NGOs stepped in to help. They are suggestions that shopkeepers prepare the items at home and sell them on the beach. That won’t work since people are doubly careful about what they consume. The civic body should take proper care while deciding something; there should be no loss of livelihood.”

List ready

Meanwhile, the GCC has finalised a list of around 18,000 applicants for hawking on the beach under the categories of A and B after the scrutiny of applications. The category A is for existing vendors and category B is for city residents who wish to start businesses on the beach.

Civic officials said the list of persons eligible for participation in the draw of lots would be published on January 6. Smart carts would be allotted based on the draw of lots to be held in the presence of former Sikkim High Court Chief Justice Satish K. Agnihotri on January 20 and 21. More than 1,400 vendors of Marina beach have been found eligible for smart carts. Such applicants have submitted street-vending identity cards issued by the GCC. At least 16,000 city residents are eligible for licence to vend on the beach, said officials who scrutinised the applications.

The officials said applications without signatures had been rejected. Applications submitted by residents of neighbourhoods outside the city limits had also been rejected.

Civic officials said the first batch of 300 smart carts would be ready shortly. Another batch of 300 would be distributed to licence-holders one month after the launch. The last batch of 300 is expected before the announcement of the Assembly election.

Fishermen are rejoicing since at a hearing on Friday, the High Court observed that the welfare of fishermen and their rights were more important than the beautification of the Marina. The court said beautification could be carried out simultaneously, but the welfare of fishermen should be the priority.

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Printable version | Mar 9, 2021 5:05:05 PM |

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