The grain and vegetable market in Sector 26 is probably the filthiest of the markets in City Beautiful. Markers of the place — apart from wholesale rates and availability of many varieties of vegetables — are animal waste, dirt, and rotting slush. And, when it rains, the streets overflow with decaying garbage.
Encroachment by vendors and the bad condition of roads, both perennial problems, have led to chaos at what is a wholesale market as well as a popular retail destination. Traffic congestion worsens in the evening when maximum people come to shop.
Retired school teacher Surinder Kaur, 67, a regular visitor to the market since 1992, says nothing has changed: “Shopping here is always an unpleasant experience. We buy here because it is economical. The visitors and the vendors have neither proper toilets not drinking-water facility.”
The UT administration has been making efforts to improve the situation, which have proved too little. Cosmetic anti-encroachment drivers are conducted and the encroachers, hundreds in number, are back as soon as the officials leave the place.
Following directions of the Punjab and Haryana high court, the administration carried out a survey of the area to chalk out a blueprint for rationalisation of existing space, strengthening of roads, garbage disposal, beautification by planting trees, earmarking parking space, and for ensuring smoother movement of traffic and pedestrians. However, nothing has happened so far. The market committee is entrusted with the job of keeping the area clean, for which it hires contractors.
Need for another market
The existing infrastructure of the market, which came into existence much before the emergence of Panchkula and extensive development in and around Manimajra on its eastern end, is unable to meet the present-day requirements.
The issue has also been highlighted in the draft Master Plan 2031 of the city, which points out that the shortage of infrastructure has led to building violations, encroachment of public corridors and pavements, and stacking of goods on rooftops by shopkeepers. There are no facilities for the labourers who manage in makeshift, unhealthy arrangements.
To decongest the market, the administration has been planning to shift the wholesale grain market part to Sector 39, leaving only retail trade in Sector 26.
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