Reply in Assembly over proposed market fuels women vendor's rage
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, July 16: The reply given by MAHUD Minister L Nandakumar on the floor of the Assembly to a call attention motion in connection with the proposed construction of a market complex at Khwairamband bazar evoked strong protest amongst the women vendors today.

The women who have been opposing the proposed market complex informed the press that they would be constrained to take up a series of agitation until and unless the Government gives in writing that the face of Laxmi bazar, Nupi Keithel and New Market would not be changed.

As words of the MAHUD Minister's reply spread, women folks started gathering around the traffic island near the Shamu Makhong at 3.30 pm and tried to march up to the Assembly.

However additional police force including women police stopped the women vendors from proceeding further.

Stopped by the police the women folk held a meeting for a few minutes at the spot and shouted slogans that the face of Khwairamband bazar should not be changed at any cost.

The women ended their protest at about 5 pm.

All shops remained opened during the agitated protest launched by the women folks.

Replying to a call attention motion moved by Opposition MLAs O Joy and Dr Nimaichand Luwang, MAHUD Minister L Nandakumar said that the proposed new market complex will not deface or change the look of Nupi Keithel.

Elaborating, the Minister said that present Nupi Keithel is surrounded by grocery stores which are run by men.

In the proposed new market complex, all the grocery shops will be moved to the upper floors while the ground floor will be exclusively run by the women folk.

Nandakumar said that the new market complex will offer more space which will mean more shops.

Owners whose shops will be affected by the Bir Tikendrajit flyover will be given preference when the fresh space is allotted.

Reacting to Joy's observation that it would be wrong to merely concentrate on Khwairamband bazar, Nandakumar said that the market complexes at Lamphel and Canchipur have failed with no takers.

Giving other reasons for trying to give a face lift to Khwairamband bazar, Nandakumar said that the present market has become over crowded and dirty.

Moreover it presents a sore eye to many of the outsiders who come here to take a look at the historic market.

Giving a brief profile of the proposed market complex, the Minister said that Laxmi bazar and New market will be on the top floors and an overhead bridge will serve as the thoroughfare between the two market.

There will also be an underground parking lot where 80 four wheelers and 200 two wheelers can be parked at the same time.

During the construction period, the women Vendors will be moved to temporary places at the Mela ground in front of Kangjeibung, at Statehood Square and at the space in front of Gambhir Singh Shopping Arcade, he said.

Nandakumar also scotched talks that the Government will take deposit for the new market complex.

The MAHUD Minister farther said that the market complex will not deface Nupi Keithel and added that the model drawn up for the complex is not final.

Suggestions are welcome, he said.

To allay the apprehensions of the women folk, the Government is ready to give written assurances that the complex will not change the look of the Nupi Keithel, assured the Minister.

Joining in Chief Minister O Ibobi said that the look of the present Nupi Keithel has undergone changes according to the need of the time.

The present look is far removed from its original look, he observed.

The Chief Minister also suggested to the MAHUD Minister to give preference to tribal women in case fresh space is created by the new structure.

On the other hand the Rs 45 crores sanctioned by the Centre can only be utilized for the construction of the new market and not for any other purposes.

Cautioning against any hasty decision, Opposition MLA said that the matter should be studied minutely and queried why a new market cannot be constructed at some other place.