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Ponda market vendors observe bandh to protest ‘sopo tender scam’ 

PONDA: The vendors from Ponda markets on Wednesday observed a complete bandh in protest against hike in sopo rates by Ponda Municipal Council and demanded a vigilance inquiry into alleged corruption by PMC in awarding the sopo tender, which they said was a major scam.
Along with vegetable and fruit vendors, the fish market vendors also observed the bandh.
The vendors, with black ribbons on their foreheads and placards in hands, said that they will agitate till they get justice.
A strong posse of police was deployed in the market area to avoid any untoward incident. The vendors alleged that PMC had indulged in corruption to the tune of Rs 1,38,30,000 by manipulating the minimum bidding price.
In the evening, around 400-odd vendors marched to the Ponda Municipal Council.
High court advocate Jatin Naik, advocate Thalmann Pereira, AAP leader Swati Kerkar, former chairperson of PMC and leader of vendors Manikrao alias Kishore Mamlekar, Anand Betkikar of CITU, John Mascarenhas of human rights were also present.
Advocate Thalmann said that people of Ponda will suffer if the hike in sopo rates was not rolled back and demanded to abolish the sopo by implementing street vendors act. Meanwhile, Dr Radhika Nayak, chairperson of Ponda Municipal Council said the new rates of sopo will be announced by the Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar.
Speaking to this daily, Dr Nayak said that they had a meeting with Parrikar on Wednesday over the issue of sopo and that the “chief minister has assured to compensate for the loss caused due to non-payment of sopo by vendors.”
The vendors have stopped paying the sopo since the last several days and hence, the sopo contractor had written to the PMC about the loss that he is facing.
Sources informed that Minister for PWD Ramakrishna Dhavalikar, Urban Development Minister Francis D’Souza, Ponda MLA Lavu Mamledar and a group of councillors were present for the meeting.

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