The Koyambedu wholesale market here, which emerged as a mega spreader of coronavirus leading to its closure in May, will be reopened in a phased manner from September 18 with stringent restrictions in place, the Tamil Nadu government said on Thursday. Entry of vehicles and people would be restricted and police will enforce the regulations.
A decision on reopening the market which houses vegetable, grains and fruit and flower, in multiple stages was made at a meeting chaired by Deputy Chief Minister O Paneerselvam with officials from the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) and traders here. It came close on the heels of the meeting the traders had with chief minister K Palaniswami, seeking the early opening of the market. Earlier in the day Panneerselvam inspected the market complex along with officials.
Initially, the wholesale grains market will be opened on September 18 and the vegetable wholesale section 10 days later. The fruit and flower trade will be resumed thereafter,according to an official release here. Touted as Asia's largest perishable goods market complex, Koyambedu wholesale Market Complex spread over an area of 295 acres was inaugurated in 1996.
The complex consists of about 3,100 shops, including over 1,000 wholesale and 2,000 retail shops. The government had ordered its closure on May 5 after over 3,000 COVID-19 cases were detected.
After a brief lull in activities, the market was temporarily shifted to Thirumazhisai where about 240 wholesale traders were allotted shops. No two-wheeler or autos will be permitted inside the sprawling market when it resumes functioning, while only one truck at a given point of time will be allowed to enter the complex to unload the consignment, as per the new restrictions that will govern the functioning of the market.
The workers will be provided identity cards and all those entering the market will be screened for virus. The market will be closed for a day in a week to thoroughly disinfect the premises, the release said. The market was shut in May after a large number of cases emerged among the traders and the infection spread to the interior districts from where supplies are received.