TAMIL NADU

Shop-owners at bus stand down shutters

TIRUNELVELI, FEB. 26 . Contrary to the "unanimous decision" taken at the recent meeting convened by the Collector, Sunil Paliwal, owners of all 128 shops in the new bus-stand at Vaeinthankulam here downed shutters today, protesting the decision to operate the west-bound buses through the old Junction bus-stand.

Representatives of the New Bus-stand Shopkeepers' Association, along with other associations and officials concerned, participated in the February 24 meeting, convened by Mr. Sunil Paliwal, and accepted the solution that all buses, west-bound and coming from the west, would halt at the Junction bus-stand for a few seconds, instead of halting at the bus stops near the Thevar Statue and the Aravind Eye Hospital.

However, the traders closed their business establishments in protest against the decision. The Aavin booth, selling buttermilk, hot and cold milk, was the only solace to the passengers at the new bus-stand.

"Today's protest is only a warning to the officials. If we failed to react today, the traders at old bus-stand even exert pressure on the officials to operate the northbound buses through the Junction bus-stand. Ultimately, we'll hand over the shops back to the corporation if the problem continued," said an office-bearer of the association.

However, the revenue and corporation officials here feel that the new bus-stand shopkeepers were only frantically searching for an excuse, as they could not carry out their business profitably. "Since most of the shops at the new-bus stand sell snacks and sweets or hot and cold drinks, they face a stiff competition to find a comfortable place for survival. Unfortunately, they have to pay high monthly rentals to the Corporation, while the business is diminishing gradually. And expectedly, they try to put the blame on others," a Corporation official said.