Timber merchants stage demo

Voicing opposition: Timber merchants participate in a protest against demolition of the Mint Timber Market on Tuesday. —   | Photo Credit: Photo: V.Ganesan

Staff Reporter

They demand alternative measures for sustaining livelihood

CHENNAI: Timber merchants and workers dependent on the trade staged a demonstration on Tuesday at the Mint clock tower junction, demanding alternative measures by the government for sustaining their livelihood, which is likely to be affected with the ongoing demolition of the Mint Timber Market.

As police prevented them from staging demonstration at a spot earlier proposed by the traders, they had to move to a private land at the junction to continue their day-long protest.

The process of demolition of the timber shops by the Chennai Corporation began on Sunday morning and is expected to be completed soon. The shops located on Corporation land taken on lease are being cleared by the civic body to facilitate the construction of a flyover at the Mint clock tower junction. The civic body is expected to float tenders soon for construction of a four-lane flyover that would connect Basin Bridge Road and Old Jail Road.

President of the Mint Timber and Plywood Merchants’ Association P. Muniappan said that the affected merchants and workers have decided to make representation to the Chief Minister seeking intervention.

Secretary of the association E.P. Gopalakrishnan reiterated that they were not against the flyover. The project could be carried out by demolishing a part of the market and allowing the merchants to continue in the remaining portion, he added.

Members from various associations, including the Chennai Timber and Plywood Merchants’ Association, participated. “Hundreds of timber and plywood shops in and around the city remained closed as a mark of solidarity,” General Secretary of Tamil Nadu Timber Federation S. Panneerselvam said.

“Some affected merchants have also opted for requesting the government to provide alternative space for the market on the outskirts, as this would help sustain one of the oldest markets for timber and plywood in the city,” he said.

The timber retail shops have been operating for more than a century, said R. Pandian, vice-president of Chennai Timber and Plywood Merchants’ Association.