[ Tongam Rina ]
There are several weekly markets in the Itanagar Capital Region (ICR) where thousands throng. The Tuesday market in Gohpur Tinali and the Sunday markets on Zoo Road and Naharlagun have become part of the trends in the capital region. From vegetables to meat, fish, all kinds of necessary household stuff, clothes and umbrellas – they’re cheaper than the ones you get in the daily markets.
These weekly markets also have thrift stores where you get all sorts of clothes, all below Rs 380, second hand blankets and curtains still in good shape and much more affordable than in a regular shop that invariably overcharge by hundreds of rupees. You can get the trendiest clothes in these markets, making them very popular among the young crowds as well as those who cannot afford to buy from regular shops. All you need to know is the art of bargaining and patience to bear the mud on rainy days and the heat and humidity on a rainless day, and of course the loud non-stop chatters.
Most of the shops in these crowded and chaotic markets, particularly thrift shops, locally foraged vegetables (an essential item in everyday meal) and meat shops are run by tribal women, while the rest are migrants from elsewhere in the country. Some of them put up stalls in all the three markets, while some stick to a particular weekly market.
There were demands that the Tuesday market, which spilled onto the pedestrian path beside NH 415, be closed down because it interfered with the flow of the traffic and blocked the movement of the residents nearby.
Last heard, the market was dismantled by the capital administration.
It had been there for quite sometime but it was only last week that the administration decided to dismantle the shops because these shabby structures became illegal suddenly. How? The market had not popped up overnight.
How can one just dismantle everything, even if they were illegal structures, without giving another space to set up shops? What was the administration doing when from a few vegetable shops it had turned into a bustling market? Could there have been a better way of making way for the cars and the traffic and the residents without taking away livelihoods? That’s a question the administration needs to ask itself.
Inefficient government administration is often devoid of compassion, and therefore selective in whom they target. Most often it’s the smaller businesses that are the first casualties. Cheered on by an equally inconsiderate social media, some administrations go out of their way to hide their incompetence by targeting the economically backward and already marginalised, as was seen in Itanagar recently.
Parking is a huge issue, but isn’t it the role of the administration to find better ways for smooth flow of traffic? That can happen only when there are enough public transport vehicles. The numbers of private cars will keep growing, unless there is public transportation available. How many more markets will have to be destroyed to pave the way for the ever increasing cars?
The number of private vehicles will automatically come down if there is clean, cheap and accessible public transport. How many government-run buses do we have in the ICR? Not even ten.
Arunachal has to be the only place where hundreds of women making a living from the markets are made to give up their businesses to make way for parking space.
Many in Tuesday market now will have to look for another place to establish their shops. Overnight their businesses have been taken away by the administration that had watched in silence while they were setting up shops.