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Hyderabad: the case for a new sabzi mandi

Hyderabad: the case for a new sabzi mandi

SHIFTING the wholesale vegetable and fruit market, to its new location, in Hyderabad continues to be delayed owing to Sindh’s tardy pace of implementing projects and habit of accumulating cost overruns.

While the new market is yet to become functional, authorities are seeking millions of rupees for repairing damages caused by rains.

The project has been delayed for almost two decades. Unsanitary and unhygienic conditions in the existing market serve as major irritant to discourage new buyers.

The location of the market in the city’s thickly populated area is a source of chaotic traffic. The situation is aggravated every rainy season. The accumulation of rainwater makes matters worse for growers, traders, commission agents and buyers. Commodities are literally dumped outside shops. Middlemen and commission agents often find it hard to transport supplies to this market.

‘The new fruit and vegetable market project’ for Hyderabad – Sindh’s second largest city and gateway to rest of Sindh – was planned near Lined Channel, on 70 acres, in the mid-90s. After some spadework and facilities, authorities decided to shift the market, something that did not materialise.

The new site is not equipped with all the facilities needed for running a wholesale vegetable market. Only auction platforms are built, some passages developed and a sewerage system lay out, all of which need rehabilitation for which funds are being sought. The Sindh agriculture department seems unwilling to allocate funds for maintenance/rehabilitation of the site.

Irregularities in allotments have led to litigation in many cases. Ad hocism mars the management of the market committee that is supposed to have an elected body with representation from the private sector. In the absence of a representative body, an administrator continues to call the shots.

Incumbent administrator Shaukat Mastoi, who is pursuing the market’s rehab plan, says the erection of boundary walls at a cost of Rs26.879m has recently been approved and the release of funds is awaited. A scheme of Rs187.56m for the rehabilitation of sewerage, roads and electricity connections, is also pending approval.

Traders like Najmuddin Qureshi point out that the market’s surface level is currently way below the level of the existing external access road, a fact which exposes the market to inundation during heavy and frequent monsoons. Authorities seem uninterested to address these issues, he says.

As per the approved layout plan, under phase-I, 269 plots were earmarked for fruit dealers and 234 for vegetable traders. In phase-II, 1,914 plots in all were demarcated for allotment to different categories such as growers, new vegetable/fruit traders, brokers, and cold storages.

Traders demand regular supply of potable water, electricity supply, weigh-bridges and intra-market roads. Even auction platforms are not useable in the absence of any civic infrastructure.

Qureshi recalls how 40-50 vehicles of kinnow used to reach Hyderabad’s market for sale, but their number dropped drastically to 12-13 after small markets were created in other districts.

Post-harvest losses are estimated at 35pc on account of inept handling of commodities from farm to market.

“We find it hard to send our vegetables for sale and get a fair price. Space is unavailable and unhealthy conditions discourage growers to send their commodities to the market”, says Sindh Abagar Board President Abdul Majeed Nizamani.

Published in Dawn, Business & Finance weekly, October 10th, 2016

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