CHENNAI: Should the Koyambedu Wholesale Vegetable and Fruit Market be handed over to the Agriculture department or Chennai Corporation or function as an independent entity for better management? The market, which is run by the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority, has been surmounted by problems, including allocation of shops, encroachment, legal issues and corruption, and experts are urging the present dispensation to change the management.
During the first wave, the CMDA was at sea with managing the pandemic, and amid the second wave, experts like KP Subramanian, a former professor of urban engineering at Anna University, says the market should function independently. The CMDA’s focus should be on planning, rather than running a fruit-and-vegetable market, Subramanian asserts.He adds that the Koyambedu Market Management Committee now only plays a small role, while the CMDA has a major say in running the market. “The new government should ensure the MMC gets total power, with checks and balances to fix accountability. It should be monitored by a government entity.”
In 2015, the then Municipal Administration and Water Supply Secretary K Phanindra Reddy wanted the market to be brought under the Chennai Corporation. “CMDA is required to take up development work. As CMDA does not have the required manpower or finances, and is not empowered under the Tamil Nadu Town and Country Planning Act to continue such development projects, the possibility of transfer of the market and Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus to the Corporation needs to be considered,” according to the minutes of a meeting held in Reddy’s chamber. However, there was no progress as the Essential Commodities Act needs to be amended to bring the market under Chennai Corporation.
But Subramanian does not want it under local bodies as he feels the Corporation is already overstretched. Association of Professional Town Planners president K M Sadanand says that though CMDA money was invested in the market, the time is ripe to consider how efficiently it is being managed. He opines that government should create additional markets. The previous government planned to build three new markets at Kattankolathur, Kuthambakkam and Mathur to decongest Koyambedu. Sadanand says the present government should look into the idea, and let local bodies run the markets.
A Horticulture department official said the market could be brought under the Agriculture department as it buys produce from farmers. “This could control the prices and benefit farmers,” he says. Horticulture department has been buying fruits and vegetables directly from farmers and selling them in Chennai. S Chandran, Market management Committee Licensed Merchants Association president and Anaithu Sangankalin Kootamaippu general secretary, says there could be chaos if the market functions independently. “It should be monitored by a government entity,” he asserts.