KOCHI: The Pachalam market, which has always been at the centre of controversy for lack of hygiene, will soon get a facelift. Though the Kochi Corporation initiated the renovation work two years ago, it was brought to a standstill following a stay by the High Court. In August, the High Court lifted the stay following which the Corporation decided to move ahead with the work. Ever since the stay, the market, one of the oldest in the city, had dwindled into a no-business zone, with occasional sales taking place only on certain days, mostly weekends.
According to resident associations, the place had turned into a hub for illegal slaughter and other anti-social activities. Antony Puthoor, an activist residing at Pachalam, said the vendors were also evading tax.
"The market has been functioning illegally for many years now. The Corporation officials made a show of renovating the market two years ago. But, a resident approached the High Court seeking a stay. Now, that the ban is off, the officials should ensure the work is not merely an eyewash," said Antony.
Advocate Harish, president of the KPRA residents association, said the move to renovate the Pachalam market is welcome. "In the past, the Pachalam market was a major landmark. Many would come to Pachalam market to purchase fish and vegetables. Now, it has been reduced to a few shops, that too on some days," he said.
PM Harris, Works Standing Committee chairperson, Kochi Corporation said the construction of the market will hopefully begin next month. "We are reworking on the design of the market. Since we don't have sufficient funds this year, we are awaiting sanction from the District Planning Committee for approval of extra funds. The work is expected to be completed in two years," he said.
Officials also refuted allegations that the Corporation was not collecting tax from the vendors.
"Ever since a major portion of the Pachalam market was demolished for the renovation work, the vendors don't have proper facilities, which is why the Corporation is not forcefully collecting the amount due from them," said Albert Ambalathingal, councillor, Pachalam. In 2014, the State Human Rights Commission had ordered the closing down of the Pachalam market due to the unhygienic conditions prevailing in the area.