There seems to be no end to the inconvenience caused the city residents. A few hours after bank employees decided to defer their strike, it’s now the turn of veggie vendors. Vegetable wholesalers, retailers and commission agents at Bahadur Ke Road went on an indefinite strike on Tuesday following complaints of rampant fleecing by LRY Construction, the company commissioned to manage the parking lot at the market.
Protesters accused the contractor who was overcharging the vendors as well as vehicles entering the vegetable market. The vegetable sellers have also accused the Punjab Mandi Board of acting in collusion with the contractor and demanded the contract with LRY Construction be terminated.
Somnath Fauji, president of Sabzi Mandi Adti Association, said in 2013, the Punjab Mandi Board allotted a land of 11,000 sq yard to vendors inside the vegetable market with an arrangement that the Mandi Board would charge them a user charge.
“But later, the land was given on contract to the contractor, who started fleecing rehri owners,” said Fauji.
The vegetable market does a brisk business of at least `8-10 crore every day. The strike will also affect veggies supply in the areas around Ludhiana city, to which the market also caters.
On the other hand, Raju of LRY Construction denied charging exorbitant amounts from vendors, adding that he got the contract only after due process was followed.
Meanwhile, vegetable vendors met minister for agriculture Tota Singh to discuss the strike. Singh is believed to have assured them of a solution.
Amarveer Singh, general secretary of Fruits and Vegetables Commission Agents Association of Punjab, admitted the strike will affect vegetable supply.
Punjab Mandi Board chairman Ajmer Singh Lakhowal did not respond to calls.
On June 6, 2014, the Mandi board had give a contract of `4.31 crore to collect user charges from vendors, while LRY Construction was given a contract of `1.20 crore for managing the parking lot at the market on January 16 this year.