Traditional markets in Chennai cry for drastic overhaul

Mandis face slow death after supermarkets come in.

Chennai: Markets in Chennai are slowly turning into an eyesore, as there are no waste management system and water treatment facilities in place.

With the concept of supermarkets coming in, these traditional markets are crying for attention and are facing slow death. While Broadway, Chintadripet, Pattalam, Mylapore and Saidapet markets still record thousands of footfalls on a daily basis trading tonnes of perishable food, the hygiene in market places across the city is an issue to public health.

The interesting fact is that some these markets which date back to colonial era do not have a development plan or functional norms prescribed by local bodies.

There are also private markets dating back to early 19th century like the Zam bazzar market, Chintadripet and the Kothaval Chavadi market lacking basic amenities.

“These markets are living heritage, but are denied due maintenance. In Australia, there are well maintained old markets, but in Chennai it’s the other way,” rues historian S. Muthiah, who has written about the old markets in erstwhile Madras.

A closer look at the reason for such poor maintenance and the stench that hits you on your face is due to two major factors, first the local power struggle within the vendors and owners, who administer these private markets. The second reason is the failure of the city corporation health department to inspect and maintain hygiene in these markets.

A senior city corporation official attached to Central Chennai when asked about the last inspection or raid conducted in these markets, the official maintained silence and then pointed out that no inspection takes place.

When asked what if substandard or contaminated consumables are sold to public, the official shot back if there are public complaints we will respond as per the provisions under TN public health act 1939.

Case study of Chintadripet Market

Tension is brewing up between vendors and Congress politician J M Haroon Rasheed, who has recently purchased the Chindatripet fish market. Vendors at the fish market on Sunday staged a protest and put up banners urging Mr Haroon to stay away from acquiring the market possession.

Posters screaming “our livelihood will be robbed and we will be shunted out from market’ were seen hanging in and around the Chintadripet market.

While the Chintadripet Fish Market Association president R Apparaj want the status quo to continue, Haroon wants his market to be developed and sanitation be in place.

“I am running markets in Puzhal and Perambur, where sanitation and maintenance is must, these traders were not paying rents, so the owner unable to manage the property sold it to me,” said Haroon.

“What is legally wrong in me purchasing a private market and trying to run it with surveillance cameras, security persons, waste management and sanitation in place,” asked Haroon. He said he wanted to apply for the Chennai Corporation trade licence and regularise the market that now runs without any licence. A trader said the market was free for all without any restrictions in timings, but Haroon is trying to increase the rent and bring in new norms, which traders are not used to.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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