Recurring illegal farmer’s markets in Kharadi force residents to protest

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Local traders in Kharadi faced the brunt of residents on Sunday, who were protesting against the allocation of an open plot on Dargah Road for a weekly farmers market. The inauguration of the market was set to take place on Sunday evening and banners and hoardings for the same had been put up around the area. It was however called off by the organizers, The Hindraj Agro Farmers Producer Company, citing the protests as an excuse. The citizens feared that the local amenity space will be taken up by the bazaar, where they earlier demanded a jogger’s park and play area to be constructed.

Social activist Prabha Bagalkotkar said, “The residents have been demanding the space to be utilized to provide amenities such as an oxygen garden and a play area so that they are benefitted. We do not require the weekly vegetable market here as there is a huge market in Chandannagar.”

Residents of multiple societies in the area were appalled to see several banners announcing the launch of the farmer’s market. A 7.5-acre amenity space was to be used up by this market, adding to the many markets of the same kind already operating in the area.

Hindraj Agro Farmers Producers Company were proclaimed as the organizers of the project, according to the banners put up at the spot. It was set to inaugurated by former Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) Bapusaheb Pathare in the presence of local corporators, according to the banners.

Around 5 societies in the vicinity had opposed the market, namely residents of Cheryl Apartments, Beryl Apartments, Langston Society, Zinia, Aleria and City Vista societies. Citing traffic as a major reason behind the opposition, Nitin Karodade, chairman of Cheryl Downtown Society said, “We have checked with PMC, which said it had not given any permission. There are schools nearby and more than 1,500 citizens reside here. Having yet another market will add to the traffic snarls. We will request officials to convert this land into a jogger’s park.”

Nitin Memane, a member of Kharadi residents association, said, “Most of us work in the IT industry and tend to shop online. These markets only congest the thoroughfare and add to our woes. We have been opposing the move since early February. Despite our objection, two markets have already come up along the footpaths. If allowed to operate, this will be the third in line to block the roads.”

According to a Hindraj Agro Industries Farmer Producer Company member, Mukesh Mehere, the company was unaware of the illegality of the market prior to the protests. “We did not know the exact process of taking permission to set up the market. Although, we had spoken to the local corporator in the area about it and he has given us a nod. Based on this, we organized the market. But, we cancelled our plans because of the agitation by residents.”

The residents have been assured by Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) commissioner, Shekhar Gaikwad, that a meeting will be held soon to resolve the issue. “Soon, we will conduct a meeting with Maharashtra Agricultural Produce Marketing Board regarding these markets and their regularisations. However, as far as this case is concerned, it seems that the market was illegal. We will take a call in the meeting and see that such cases don’t arise,” he said while speaking to the Pune Mirror.

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