The Tamil Nadu government has issued fresh restrictions for outlets inside the Koyambedu Market Complex from April 10.

A high angle shot of Chennai's Koyambedu market
Coronavirus COVID-19 Friday, April 09, 2021 - 17:46

Traders from the Koyambedu Market in Chennai staged a protest on Friday against the Tamil Nadu government’s orders of closure of all shops in view of the second wave of COVID-19. The protesting traders said that the closure would impact the owners and workers in the 1,860 semi-wholesale and retail shops in the market as well as farmers. On April 8, the government issued fresh restrictions saying fruits and vegetable retail outlets at Koyambedu will not be allowed to conduct business inside the market complex from April 10.

Demanding that 50% of the shops be allowed to open on a rotational basis, the vegetable and fruit traders said that their businesses were just returning to normalcy and this closure from April 10 will impact their livelihoods and future. The traders have said that they will be on an indefinite protest till the government changes its decision.

All shops of the Koyambedu market were ordered closed on May 5, 2020 whereas retailers had been shut since April 27. From November 16, the Tamil Nadu government has allowed retail trade to resume but with several restrictions. They said that after the shops were allowed to open in November 2020, after a gap of over seven months, they had just managed to get back 40% of their previous business by March this year.  

The traders alleged that the government unilaterally took the decision to shut them down and did not even consult the traders’ federation before making the move. They also said that the closure will lead to a spike in the fruits and vegetables prices which will impact citizens. 

As an alternative to complete closure, the traders federation had reportedly suggested opening of shops on alternate days to curb the spread of COVID-19. They had also suggested setting up temporary shops in other locations for semi-wholesale traders to operate from for traders from the Koyambedu, Adyar and Broadway markets. 

In 2020, the Tamil Nadu government had blamed traders and vendors of the Koyambedu fruit, flower and vegetable market for the huge surge of COVID-19 cases in Chennai and Tamil Nadu. The CM had alleged that the traders had refused to decentralise and shift the market elsewhere leading to the emergence of the most challenging novel coronavirus cluster in the state.

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