Shopkeepers at Chennai’s Koyambedu market to switch to cloth bags

The announcement was made by Supriya Sahu, Tamil Nadu environment secretary, at a meeting with the traders in Koyambedu market on Saturday.
Koyambedu market aerial view
Koyambedu market aerial view
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Shopkeepers at the Koyambedu wholesale fruit and vegetable market in Chennai have decided to stop using disposable plastic bags and switch to cloth bags. The announcement was made by Supriya Sahu, Tamil Nadu Secretary of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, at a meeting with the traders in Koyambedu market on Saturday, October 2.

“While speaking to traders at the Koyambedu fruit & vegetables market, I emphasised on the need to get rid of disposable plastic bags & bringing back our traditional yellow cloth bags or 'Manjai Pai' as we call them in TN. We all are eating plastic equal to a credit card each week,” Sahu tweeted. 

Speaking at an event which was attended by the Chennai Corporation Commissioner Gagandeep Singh Bedi in Koyambedu, Sahu said, “These days we consume one credit card worth of plastics. This is because everywhere around us, there are micro plastics. Even 15 years back, shoppers coming to buy fruits and vegetables would not use plastic bags but use what we call the ‘manja pai’ - a yellow cloth bag which is used and reused by people. Why can’t we go back to that time? The heavy use of plastics is very harmful for the future generation.”

The Koyambedu Whole Market complex is among the largest markets for perishable goods in the whole of Asia. It has over 3100 shops with over 1000 wholesale shops and 2000 retail outlets. 

The market opened in early 2021 after seven months of lockdown. However, the Tamil Nadu government asked the market to close down once again in April this year with the onset of the second wave of COVID-19.

In April 2021, the traders of the Koyambedu market staged protests against the government’s orders to close down all shops amid the second wave. They demanded that 50% of the shops be allowed to function on a rotational basis, as a total lockdown resulted in massive losses and loss of livelihood for the shopkeepers. 

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