Exasperated women vendors in Imphal return to damaged market complex

Imphal, July 21 (IANS) Tired of waiting for the government to provide them an alternate place for shops, around 2,000 women vendors on Thursday stormed three marketing complexes that were damaged in an earthquake in Imphal city to restart selling their wares.

The women had been provided accommodation in the temporary shed near Johnstone Higher Secondary school, a little distance away from the complexes.

A devastating earthquake on January 4, 2016 measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale had partially damaged the three complexes which were exclusively manned by women vendors.

While the report of the experts was awaited the government had constructed a temporary shed at Thangal street leaving no space for ambulances and fire tenders.

However all sections of people in general, and Khumukcham Joykishan, MLA of the locality in particular, had objected to it and the government demolished it.

Another temporary market was constructed near the school, but it lacked basic facilities.

Women vendors complained, “There is no basic facility there. There is no cooling facility in the sweltering heat. To cap it all, virtually no customer comes there for the simple reason that there is no parking lot there.”

Another woman said: “We held a meeting on Thursday and resolved to return to the dilapidated complexes, come what may. If some of us die the government should be held squarely responsible. There is no fun in sitting in the alternative market since we cannot earn anything to buy even rice for our families.”

There has been inordinate delay in obtaining the expert report on the damage. Besides no repair work has been done on the damaged portions of the complexes.

BJP activists present during the agitation said, “We had submitted a report to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on the way the women vendors are ill-treated. We were assured that a central team will soon be sent to assess the situation.”

Some women had started selling consumer items on the road side. Some persons had pitched temporary sheds and were collecting Rs 500 each per month. The women vendors said it is a big amount for them since they are not selling much.

–IANS

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