CHENNAI: The decision to close retail shops at the Koyambedu Wholesale Market Complex in view of the new restrictions announced by the state government will result in bigger crowds at the remaining wholesale shops and may lead to a rise in prices of vegetables, traders said.
The semi-wholesale vegetable traders association said the decision was taken without consulting them and could render about 10,000 people jobless. Flower shops at Koyambedu will continue to operate.
S S Muthukumar, president of the Koyambedu Semi Wholesale Vegetable Traders Association, expressed concern that a crisis-like situation had developed with the increase in number of Covid-19 cases. “Of the 1,960 shops in the vegetable section, hardly 200 are going to function catering to the same volume of customers. These shops would be cramped,” he said. Noting that the livelihood of 10,000 people working in the semi-wholesale shops was at stake, he said a spike in prices of vegetables would be unavoidable. “Moreover, we were not consulted about any alternate site in the city where we continue our business temporarily,” he said.
A representative of the wholesale vegetable traders association said a clear picture on the price revision could emerge next week depending upon the situation. The KMWC receives 550 to 600 trucks of vegetables every day, with the current rates of almost all vegetables lowest in the past one year.
When contacted, official sources with the Market Management Committee of Koyambedu said that a meeting with officials of the housing and urban development department has been scheduled for Friday to discuss the issue of providing alternate sites for semi-wholesale traders.
In May 2020, at the height of the pandemic, the Koyambedu wholesale market emerged as a Covid-19 hotspot and was shut. While 200 wholesale vegetable shops were shifted to Thirumazhisai, fruit wholesale shops were moved to the mofussil bus terminus at Madhavaram. In September, the vegetable section at Koyambedu was reopened, while fruit and flower shops opened later.