MADURAI: Coming down heavily on the district administration of Tiruchy for failing to shift traders from Gandhi Market to the newly constructed market in Kallikudi, the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court on Tuesday passed interim injunction on re-opening the wholesale market.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition filed by K Krishnamoorthy, a division bench comprising Justices M Sathyanarayanan and P Rajamanickam observed that though the Kallikudi market complex was inaugurated as early as 2017 and was opened for sales in 2018, authorities have still not managed to make traders in Gandhi market shift to the new market apprehending law and order problem.
Further, the judges observed that due to the failure of authorities, the Gandhi market became a Covid-19 hotspot. Even after the temporary closure of the market, authorities seemed to have allotted alternative space for vendors at G-corner, instead of shifting them to Kallikudi, thereby creating another hotspot.
“The Kallikudi market complex spanned 9.7 acres and had a capacity of 830 shops of three different sizes, compared to the Gandhi market which contains only 350 shops of lesser size. It is only 15 km away from the latter and 12 km from the Tiruchy bus stand,” the judges observed.
They castigated the district collector for trying to ‘cajole’ the traders to shift instead of exercising his powers. Citing that Tiruchy was already identified as a red zone by the Union Health Ministry, the judges told the collector, “It is high time the administration realized its responsibility and acted swiftly instead of hiding behind statistics.”
The judges ordered an interim injunction against re-opening of Gandhi market till the disposal of the PIL and posted the case to September 14. Activists welcomed the court order and urged the district administration to move the market to Kallikudi. Ku Pa Krishnan, the former agriculture minister said, “ At least now the district administration should move shops to the Kallikudi Integrated market permanently. Already tender processes have been completed. The Collector should immediately order allottees to open shop and close the G corner grounds.”
Traders, on the other hand, said they will decide the future course of action after consultations. It may be recalled that traders operating in the Gandhi Market refused to shift to Kallikudi on the grounds that it was 12 km away from the city.
(With inputs from Jayakumar Madala, Tiruchy)