₹77-crore market remains idle as traders stay away

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Farmers groups, who have been allotted shops at the Central Market for Vegetables, Fruits and Flowers at Kallikudi, have urged the government to make the new market complex functional in the wake of failed efforts to shift traders from Gandhi Market to this facility.

The Tiruchi Market Committee, functioning under the Department of Agricultural Marketing and Agri Business, had recently called for applications for allotment of some of the unallotted shops in the complex, which, however, remains non-functional.

The market was built at a cost of ₹77 crore with financial assistance from National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD). Situated about 12 km away from the city off the Tiruchi-Madurai National Highway, the complex has been at a centre of a row ever since it was opened in September 2017 after wholesale traders of Gandhi Market in Tiruchi, for whom it was meant for, refused to shift to the market on the grounds that it was far removed from the city and the shops did not suit their requirements. The market was established on 9.79 acres with 830 shops.

In September last year, the Tiruchi Market Committee allotted 412 shops to traders (after cancelling the initial allotment of shops to Gandhi Market traders) after the government decided to allot shops to traders from any part of the State without restricting it to those from Gandhi Market. More than 100 shops were allotted to Farmers Interest Groups (FIGs), Farmers Producers Groups (FPGs) and Farmers Producers Organisations (FPOs). A few days ago, the market committee has called for applications to allot 211 vacant shops meant for traders and 49 reserved for farmers’ groups.

Meanwhile, the FIGs, FPGs and FPOs, organised as a federation held a meeting recently to take stock of the situation. They said that officials had earlier said that traders will be shifted from Gandhi Market to the Kallikudi market which will function as the central market.

As Gandhi Market traders were reluctant to shift to the new market, it is lying in disuse, defeating the very purpose of establishing the facility and rendering crores of rupees a dead investment. This has also raised a question mark over the livelihood of farmers who were part of the groups allotted shops at the market, the federation said.

Urging Chief Minister M. K. Stalin to infuse a fresh lease of life to the Kallikudi market, the federation has called upon the government to suspend collection of rent for the shops allotted to them until the market was made functional.

Second market

“We are facing much hardship as we are not able to run the shops as customers are not coming. The market has to be made functional somehow and it can become successful if given a push. The government could develop and promote the complex as a second market in the city. The new market need not be confined to traders selling vegetables, fruits and flowers. It can be a multi-product market,” said M. Thangavel, coordinator of the federation, and president of Manikandam FPG.