No women vendors turned up despite government’s order to reopen Ima Markets

Nupi Keithel Sinfam Amadi Saktam Kanba Lup general secretary Thingujam Rani said that before issuing such an order, the government should discuss with the representatives of the markets 10 days ahead.


(PHOTO: IFP)

Representatives of the three Khwairamband Ima Markets condemned the issuance of an order by the state government for reopening of the markets from Wednesday.

Nupi Keithel Sinfam Amadi Saktam Kanba Lup president Thoudam ongbi Shanti Devi said that reopening of the markets is yet to be decided as there is still high risk of COVID-19 infection among the vendors.

In an order issued by the state Home department signed by chief secretary, Rajesh Kumar, it mentioned that three Ima Keithels and temporary markets in Paona and Thangal bazaar are allowed to open and subjected to preparation of the schedule for the vendors under certain criteria.

It also mentioned that each woman vendor may be given an opportunity to sell her goods twice a week. In its annexure, it mentioned that the three Ima markets have long elongated platforms separated by a passageway in between for customers to accommodate two rows of vendors each facing opposite sides. IMC must divide the vendors into three groups A, B and C by following the stall numbers allocated to each vendor for instance stall numbers. Group A will be painted black, Group B with white and Group C with Red.

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Thereafter, IMC is to make the vendors have a physical distance of at least six feet between one another. In case of areas, only one row of vendors can sit with markings to ensure physical distance between vendors. Wearing face masks by all the vendors is compulsory, it added.

It further stated markets or keithels may open with 50 per cent capacity and concerned district administration must ensure adequate physical distancing between them.

However, after the order was issued, no women vendors were seen in the vending sheds on Wednesday.

Shanti said that the representatives of the three markets and chief minister had discussed before in order to resume the market but it was yet to be decided when the market should be reopened.

Recently from February 15 to April 21, the three Ima markets were allowed to open with the coming of Cheiraoba (a traditional Meitei festival). In that phase, more than 20 vendors succumbed to COVID-19. The women vendors will not take risks for their lives in order to get some profits, she added.

Responding to the media persons, Shanti said that the order seems to be issued as the state assembly election is getting near.

“If the government issued the order, then will the government be able to control the vendors which will be allowed to vend on rotational basis. If the vendors of three Ima markets started vending by following the guidelines of the government, will the government be able to control the street vendors that have been increased to double after the state government issued a street vendor loan,” she questioned.

There are more than 3,000 vendors in the three markets and before issuing the order the state government should consult the representatives of the three Ima markets for the arrangement of seats on rotational basis. No women vendor will follow the rotational seat issued by the state government as the rules and regulation in markets is totally different, said Shanti.

Nupi Keithel Sinfam Amadi Saktam Kanba Lup general secretary Thingujam Rani said that before issuing such an order, the government should discuss with the representatives of the markets 10 days ahead.

Before issuing the order, no consent was taken from the representatives of markets and IMC officials. Issuing orders is easy but implementation is not an easy task, she added.

She said that the state government’s rotational vending routine might not be applicable for all the vendors, especially for those who are selling edible items, including fruits and fishes. 

First Published:Sept. 23, 2021, 12:37 a.m.

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