One of the most important grain markets of the region, the Kotkapura grain market, is losing its glory with every season. Its boundary walls have been broken from many places and jhuggi dwellers have occupied a kuccha yard near the Bathinda road.
The jhuggi dwellers are the main cause of harassment for farmers and commission agents. With the dwellers wandering in the grain market, farmers find it difficult to leave the produce unattended even for a few minutes. The farmers claim their produce is stolen by children and women from the slum settlement.
As the jhuggis have grown on the premises of the grain market over many seasons due to the alleged indifferent attitude of the officials concerned, the Mandi board officials now find it difficult to remove the encroachment which houses poor people.
"Kotkapura is the leading grain market, not only in the district, but in the region around it, for the sale of basmati and other crops. Despite our repeated pleas, nothing was done by the administration. The children from the jhuggis lift the produce and farmers run after them. What will happen if a child gets hurt or killed by an agitated farmer?" asked a commission agent.
The broken boundary wall has led to the free entry of stray animals and thieves which have become a headache for farmers, labourers and commission agents.
The boundary wall from the Bathinda road has been allegedly broken by the jhuggi dwellers to make their jhuggis inside the compound. Some transporters who park their trucks and a commercial establishment which parks the vehicles of its customers right under the nose of the Mandi board officials and district administration are also an added nuisance.
When the grain market was built, all entrances had two gates, one each for entry and exit with two lanes to avoid traffic jams in the market. But now, one gate and lane are always closed as produce is unloaded which results in frequent jams.
The commission agents have demanded raising the height of the boundary wall many times, but the market officials cite the problem of funds.