The stoppage of construction of a new modern fish market in place of the old main fish market in the heart of Udupi city, has put nearly 250 fisherwomen now selling fish from a temporary fish market, in a quandary.
The construction of the new fish market began on 31 cents of land on Poornaprajna College Road here this January at an estimated cost of Rs. 1.99 crore. Of this, the National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB) was to provide 90 per cent of the fund, and the rest was to be provided by the State government.
The construction was to be completed in 18 months. But after digging the pits for the foundation, the work stopped. The Coastal Development Authority (CDA) is the coordinating agency for this work, while the Department of Ports and Fisheries is the executing agency.
According to the Executive Engineer in the Department of Ports and Fisheries T.S. Rathod, first there was a delay in providing design details of the new fish market by the CDA. Then the CDA asked his Department not to proceed with the construction till the authority was reconstituted, he said.
In anticipation of the construction of the new market, the fisherwomen were shifted to a temporary market at Beedinagudde in May last year. This temporary market functions from make-shift sheds erected by the Udupi City Municipal Council (CMC). A temporary toilet, too, has been set up there.
Fisherwomen are dissatisfied with the temporary market because of the congestion and the drop in sales. Appi M. Bangera, vice-president of the Udupi Taluk Wet Fish Sellers’ Association, said fisherwomen had to pay more autorickshaw fare to bring the fish from Malpe harbour. Even customers had to pay more to come here. “The sales are down. The rate of fish will go up during the monsoon. I wonder how much fish we will be able to sell then. The authorities told us that the new market would be ready in six months. Now it is nearly a year,” she said.
Indira Maindan, fisherwoman, was sore about the lack of cleanliness. “We fisherwomen clean this temporary market daily. During the rainy season, the rainwater will rush in,” she said.
Another fisherwoman Bharati said there was no proper facility for fisherwomen to sit and sell fish. “As a result, some of us have developed back pain and knee pain. We cannot suffer any more. After the rainy season, we will go back to the old market pitch tents and sell fish,” she said.
Gokuldas Nayak, CMC Commissioner, said the CMC urged the fisherwomen to temporarily shift to the fish market at Adiudupi, where all facilities are available.
“But they are unwilling to go there. The toilet facilities at the nearby Beedinagudde crematorium have been provided to them. A temporary fish market is temporary. Even now some of them can move to the Adiudupi,” he said.