Malgodown, the largest food and commodities market of the State, will observe a bandh on Wednesday to protest the apathy of the Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC) in addressing its drainage and sanitation problems.
Announcing this, the trade bodies __ Cuttack Chamber of Commerce, Odisha Rice Merchants’ Association and Retail Dealers’ Association __ warned that they would follow it up with an indefinite stir if the civic administration fails to take action in seven days.
The traders alleged that the civic conditions in the market had gone down to such miserable levels that the prime business area of the Millennium City had become totally unfit to conduct business. The drains across the market yard are choked and overflowing, leading to bad hygienic conditions and contamination of food and edible items in the market.
“The drain and sewage water is continuously overflowing and flooding the shops and godowns thereby damaging and contaminating the grains, pulses, spices and other food commodities. In the past one week, commodities worth lakhs of rupees have been destroyed due to the flooding by drain water. We have been raising the issue with the CMC authorities for long but no action has been taken to improve the situation,” president of Cuttack Chamber of Commerce Laxmidhar Sahoo said.
Malgodown has transactions to the tune of ` 10 to 20 crore in a day. There are more than 1,000 stockists and dealers in the market yard established by the Britishers. The market generates substantial revenue for the Government and is a major contributor to the coffers of CMC in the form of different taxes.
The traders have alleged that problems have aggravated ever since the sanitation and cleaning operations were outsourced to a private agency. “The drains have not been cleaned or de-silted even once in the past six months. With the onset of monsoon, they have choked and are overflowing. The condition of roads is also similar as repair works have not been undertaken ever since. The streetlighting in the entire market area has gone phut, leading to rising incidents of crime,” regretted Madhusudan Rout, president of Odisha Rice Merchants’ Association.
The traders said that as repeated requests did not elicit action, a delegation had called on Mayor SK Ghosh to apprise him of the situation and appeal for urgent remedial action. “But the authorities have still turned a blind eye to the woes, forcing us to take to agitation. We will wait for a week and be compelled to resort to more fierce agitation if the apathy persists,” the leaders warned.