The vegetable market at Mapusa witnessed chaos over the allotment of spaces on Saturday.
The Mapusa Municipal Council was delaying the opening of the market on the pretext that it was working on a seating arrangement for the vegetable vendors.
Vegetable vendors had gathered on Saturday morning around the new market building waiting to enter the premises. Around 8 a.m. as the shutter of the market complex was opened by the municipal staff, they rushed in to occupy the spaces assuming the spaces are to be occupied on first-come first-served basis but later the municipal inspector Tayo Gadekar along with market inspector Sonali Gadekar informed the vendors that spaces would be allotted on the basis of list made by the council.
Till 10.30 a.m., things appeared out of control, and those who had entered the market building claiming to be vegetable vendors were moved out by the Mapusa policemen.
Later, names were called out and vendors were allocated spaces.
Of the 350 vendors, around 242 vendors, including 14 wholesalers, were allotted the spaces to conduct business in the market premises. Sources claimed all the 14 wholesalers are non-Goans.
Around 80 others, who deal in garlic, ginger vendor, onion, potatoes, and coriander were allotted spaces in front of the market building.
The sources claimed some traditional vegetable vendors, who come from the neighboring villages, have been denied spaces in the new market.
Some traditional vegetable vendors, who have been selling vegetables in Mapusa for decades, claimed that they have been denied spaces in the new market complex while the non-Goans have been given preference having paid huge kickbacks.
A traditional vendor Chandravati Lingudkar (75), a resident of Uccasim, who has been selling locally-grown vegetables in the market, was distressed as she was not given space in the market.
Another local vendor Anushree (65) said that “only non-Goans are allotted spaces, while we genuine vendors selling vegetables for the last 30 years are left out. We hope the municipality makes some arrangement as we are informed that anyone found selling vegetable on roadside will be fined.”
President of Mapusa Merchants Association Ashish Shirodkar visited the new vegetable market, and criticised the MMC for not allotting the spaces properly.
Shirodkar said,“We got to know through our sources that there were around 400 vendors, of which 250 vendors have been allotted spaces in the market, which is completely illegal as spaces in the market cannot be auctioned or given to anyone else. It is in complete violation of the Supreme Court order on vendor’s right.”
He further said that “when we visited the new vegetable market, we got to know that non-Goans have been given preference over the local traditional vendors as bribes have been paid. The locals, who have been denied spaces in the market, have full support of the association.”
Speaking to this reporter, market committee chairman Franky Carvalho said that “only vegetable vendors are accommodated in the new vegetable market while garlic, ginger vendor, onion and potato vendors are allowed to conduct business in front of the vegetable market.”
He further said that around 54 fruit vendors sitting near Shakuntala statue will be relocated so that the people will have more free space to move.
“Around 90 new vendors, whose names been suggested by the councillors, are also given spaces in the new market,” Carvalho added.
When asked about the local vendors being allegedly denied spaces in the market, he said that “we will make provision for them to conduct business as they come twice or thrice a week to sell their vegetables. We will be scrutinising the names to whom the spaces are allotted as around 10-12 names are reported to be duplicated.”
Despite the chaos prevailing at the market throughout the day, neither the chairperson Sandip Falari nor the chief officer Raju Gawas or any other officials visited the market.
It was left for the market chairman Frankly Carvalho, and Vibha Salagaokar to handle the situation.