Political leaders back weekly markets by vendors in run-up to polls
In an effort to gain political mileage in the upcoming civic polls, local corporators and various political party leaders are organising unauthorised weekly markets in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) limits.
The state government ordered in 2017 to start a weekly market in the local self-government jurisdiction, however, instead of the farmers the local vendors have taken over the system.
The Maharashtra agriculture marketing board promoted weekly markets so that farmers could directly sell their produce to consumers and avoid exploitation by middlemen. But it has not worked out as per the government’s intention.
Local vendors are exploiting consumers with help of local political party workers and sitting corporators in the name of the weekly market.
The PMC allotted open land to start markets and the first market began in Model colony in 2017; Corporators took the initiative and started weekly markets.
As per the government order, the state agriculture marketing board, the Agriculture Products Marketing Committee (APMC) and the PMC are required to provide permission to start the markets.
However, very few corporators and organizers (farmers’ groups) took permission from both agencies. Unauthorized weekly markets were flourishing in the city areas before the Covid-19 pandemic but were stopped due to strict restrictions and lockdown.
In the unlock process, unauthorized markets once again started rising in different parts of city areas and it has gone to more than 100 places as per PMC officials.
According to PMC statistics, there are more than 100 such markets operating across the city with the help of local corporators and political party workers.
All corporators put up banners and flexes in chowks and prominent places to catch the attention of residents.
Madhav Jagtap, head of PMC anti-encroachment department said, “All weekly markets are unauthorised, I have given instructions to all ward level officials and concerned anti-encroachment officials to take action on such markets. The concept was unique, but it has been corrupted. We have received complaints from residents as well as some corporators that most of the weekly markets are unauthorized and organised at the footpath. Local vegetable vendors are sitting in the weekly market.”
He further said, “On this issue, there is a meeting scheduled at the municipal commissioner Vikram Kumar’s office to discuss the issue.”
Complaints of unauthorised markets
As per PMC officials, farmers are no longer taking part in the weekly market. Local vegetable vendors sell agricultural produce and local political party workers and leaders charge a certain amount of fee from these vendors.
They are using PMC open spaces and footpaths to organise these markets and make money.
Amol Balwadkar, BJP corporator of Baner-Balewadi said, “In our area, there are only four official weekly markets that have taken permission from the APMC. However, there are around 20 markets operating in Baner, Balewadi and Bavdhan areas. Different political party workers and leaders have organised markets on footpaths and other open spaces without any permission. We have registered complaints to PMC officials about these unauthorised markets which are creating a nuisance to the public, pedestrians and spreading waste on the roadside.”
Corporators claim PMC approval
Arjun Jagtap, husband of BJP corporator Mukta Jagtap of Viman Nagar area said, “We organise weekly markets in Viman Nagar area. Farmers are selling their produce in the market and it is organised every Saturday. We have taken permission from PMC and it is organized near Symbiosis college premises.”
Jyoti Gosavi, BJP local corporator of Hingne Khurd, Sun city Sinhagad road said, “We have started a weekly market in the Sun city area. We are getting a good response and PMC has given permission to conduct it.”
New government order creates chaos
As per 2017, the government had mentioned in the order that APMC should have to give permission to farmers’ group who approached them for permission. After verification, the APMC sent a letter mentioning the name of the group and areas to PMC to provide space to organise the weekly market.
After the Covid-19 pandemic situation (November 2020), the state issued a new order and gave rights to the agriculture department to give permission to farmers’ groups.
The letter of permission will be submitted to APMC which will give a recommendation letter to PMC to provide space to the weekly market.