One of the oldest towns of South Goa is crying for a proper market for the last 55 years. Political parties and political figures have changed down the years but the woes of Quepemkars have continued. Right from Liberation the taluka headquarters is devoid of a proper market complex.
The neighbouring cities of Cuncolim and Curchorem have multi-facility markets but Quepem is denied its right by all successive governments whether MGP, Congress or BJP. All failed to fulfill the long pending demand for a market project.
All vendors -- vegetable, fish, flowers, chicken and mutton or even local traditional farmers -- all are forced to sell their products in open. More than eight years have passed since the Quepem Municipal Council demolished the fish market. Ever since the fish vendors are forced to sit outside the market in an open shed.
“For the last eight years we are forced to sit in this open place. There is no sanitation facility available with no toilets specially for us ladies who are forced to leave everything in open and run to search for toilet. Waste water gets accumulated here and in that stinking mess we vendors and even customers including general public are forced to stand with a handkerchief on the nose,” fish vendor Parvati told Herald.
There are about ten fish vendors who are paying Rs 36,000 per annum to the Quepem Municipal Council as Sopo tax. In spite of this heavy tax the Council is failed to provide us with necessary facilities, said another fish vendor.
Chicken and mutton sellers have same the story to share there is no cleanliness at this temporary market shed. There is no provision to drain out the waste water. Stinking smell and environment is not conducive for health. The municipality along with health department are least bothered to look into this mess, said residents.
“How can Health Department tolerate this nonsense? How can Municipal authorities and elected representatives keep silent on this health hazard,” asked John Fernandes a local citizen. Council is only bothered to collect Sopo they do not bother to solve our problems said one agitated fisherwoman. If they were helpless to construct new market why they demolished our shed?,” questioned the irked vendors.
It's not only fish sellers even vegetable vendors are facing same problems. For fish vendors and permanent vegetable vendors they have at least shed on their head but for local seasonal vendors specially for farmers who come to sell their farm product there is not even provision of shed during summer they sits in hot sun and in Rainy season sits in rain who cares? Neither Council nor MLA nor Opposition bothered to solve their grievances.
One of the local NGOs has provided stands for the traditional farmers recently after the Council evacuated them from the footpaths.
There are many hurdles to construct the market place. Herald tried to find out the reason why project was shelved.
Ten years back the Council had proposed the multi-facility market project under GSIDC. GSIDC had agreed to go ahead with Rs 8-crore market project in two phases. Relying on GSIDC Council promise the Council had demolished part of market but subsequently GSIDC refused to take up this project. Local MLA Chandrakant Kavalekar and Council tried their best convince GSIDC but their efforts went in vain.
Subsequently the council approached Dy Chief Minister Francisco D’Souza who promised it to take up the same project under the GSUDA present Council had send a fresh proposal to GSUDA and it had cleared the file but unfortunately this proposal also did not get the financial approval.
Local MLA Chandrakant Babu Kavalekar said "I do not know why the State government is against Quepemkars. I can understand if they have a grudge against me. But why hold the people responsible for no mistake of theirs. I went running from pillar to pole but government has failed to fulfill our demand. I do not know whether it is a financial crunch which stopped them or they do not want to give me credit for the same. Now when my government comes I'll take the market project on priority.”
Chairperson Filu D’Costa told Herald that the Council has paid Rs 14 lakh to the government to pursue this project. Despite the Deputy Chief Minister promising us to give priority to the project it unfortunately developed hindrance by way of financial approval.