Chennai: Four months since the Koyambedu vegetable market in Chennai was shut down after becoming a COVID-19 hotspot, the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) has called a meeting on Thursday to discuss reopening it.
Koyambedu is one of Asia’s largest vegetable market and is a source of livelihood for over 15,000 employees.
An CMDA official told Deccan Chronicle that the meeting would be attended by officials from CMDA, police and trade representatives.
A.M. Vikramaraja, president of the Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangankalin Peramaippu said the meeting was expected to recommend resuming business while following a strict standard operating procedure (SOP).
“We think it’s time to learn to live with the virus. We have already requested the government to reopen the market as the life of traders as well as employees has become miserable," he said.
The temporary markets set up in various parts of the city including Thirumazhisai and Madhavaram, according to him, are not viable unlike Koyambedu.
The wholesale market is also facing a shortage of workers since all of them have gone home after the market was closed.
Several other wholesale businesses, including textiles, foodgrains and electronic goods, in the market area are also eagerly waiting for the reopening.
Though 200 wholesale vegetable shops were functioning from a temporary market at Thirumazhisai, the produce doesn’t often reach residents in sufficient quantities. Due to lack of enough storage capacity at the new market, the unsold produce is being wasted, he added.
A representative of Koyambedu Wholesale Flower Merchants Welfare Association too echoed the view of reopening the Koyambedu market at earliest.
‘The flower vendors had been provided a small space at Madhavaram for business since the Koyambedu market was shut down. But the majority of vendors did not go there because of lack of space. At least 670 flower sellers including 470 shop owners have been hit by the continuing closure of Koyambedu market.
As a result of the supply chain is disturbed, the flow of flowers to the city from other districts came to a halt, dispersing street vendors. The reopening of the market is the only option to resurrect their business. So we urge the authorities to take a decision to reopen the market’, he added.
Earlier in May the Koyambedu Food Grains Traders’ Association earlier had moved the High Court seeking reopening of the food grains market.
It had argued that though COVID-19 cases were detected among workers and traders at the vegetable market within the complex, the authorities closed the shops in the food grain market as well.
“While an alternative vegetable market was set up in Thirumazhisai, no such arrangements have been made for the food grain market,” it had alleged.
The Market Complex, as per the details available with CMDA has around 3154 shops that sell vegetable, fruit and flower on the daily basis. In the Pre –Corona perod, the market had at least 1lakh daily visitors.