Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam visited the Koyambedu wholesale market for fruits, vegetables and flowers on Thursday. The senior minister was reviewing the situation at the empty marketplace that closed on May 5. Traders' bodies who have been demanding that the markets be reopened are seeing this visit as a step in the right direction.
After hundreds of COVID-19 cases emerged from this market place at the end of April, the state government and Chennai Metropolitan Development authority decided to shut it down. All trade was moved to the Thirumazhisai market in the city. However trader bodies began resisting this move in July. They demanded that Koyambedu which has the necessary inways and refrigeration facilities required for their produce be reopened. Traders argued precautions could be taken in the market to prevent the spread of the virus again.
Speaking to TNM, Vikram Raja the president of the Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sanganagalin Peramaippu (Tamil Nadu all traders association) pointed out that this was a good sign.
"We are looking to meet the Deputy Chief Minister at 5pm on Thursday. His visit to the market shows that they are looking into our demands. We are confident that they will open Chennai first and then markets in other districts as well," he says.
In a petition to the government in July, the association stated that the refusal to open the market was leading to huge losses for traders. They argued that makeshift markets did not have the facilities to store produce correctly and were inaccessible in vehicles. If this continued, they alleged, there would be a rise in cost of goods.
The association further demanded markets that in Trichy, Vellore and other districts also be opened along with flower and meat markets.
Traders have suggested that necessary regulations and protective measures can be put into force to ensure physical distancing within the markets.
On Monday, Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami met with representatives of various traders' organisations who assured them that steps will be taken to open the markets soon.