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Facilities dry up at this market
- Authorities collect tax and remain apathetic towards maintenance

Berhampur, Oct. 10: The largest dry fish market in southern part of the state lacks basic facilities.

About 10,000 fisherfolk and traders congregate at the dry fish market at Humma on Saturday midnight and disperse on Sunday after transacting business worth over Rs 1 crore every week.

“Women constitute 99 per cent of the market workforce. Fish traders from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand, Surat, Madhya Pradesh and Bengal reach here on Saturday midnight and disperse after purchasing dry fish on Sunday,” said Ganjam block chairman Surath Pahana.

Dry fish of different categories including khainga, kabala, balanga, kukuli, patharamundi, sabala are available in this market at reasonable rates. Women from Markandi, New Buxipalli, New Golabandha, Garmapeta, Sonepur, Venkatraipur, Digipur and several coastal villages of Ganjam district come here to sell dry fish to fish traders.

The market has been functioning since 1957.

“The Humma panchayat annually earns Rs 13.30 lakh lease amount from the market. However, both the panchayat authority and the district administration remain apathetic towards the poor maintenance of the market,” said Pahana.

“Moreover, the panchayat collects Rs 40 per quintal of dry fish from everybody as tax on grounds of development purposes. The market is situated on three acres instead of the required area of 10 acres. At times, due to space crunch, traders have to dump their products on the National Highway no 5, adjacent to the market,” he said.

“During 2001-02, a godown with a capacity of 30 tonnes was built on the market premises under the Swarna Jayanti Grameen Swarojgar Yojana for Rs 10 lakh. However, efforts should be made to store at least 500 tonnes of dry fish,” said Pahana.

Office of the Humma panchayat has also been operational in the godown since 2006.

“Dry fish worth Rs 7 lakh were damaged during rains in the recent past thanks to the poor maintenance of the godown,” said 53-year-old Ganapati Swain, leaseholder of the market for the past 18 years.

“The district administration must take steps to ensure proper infrastructure and basic amenities in the market. There must be sufficient space to facilitate businessmen to store enough dry fish. There is no approach road and parking space. Two tube wells are installed here for thousands of fisherfolk and traders. Water is supplied here through pipe for two hours daily. There is no toilet. Moreover, the sanitation deteriorates during rains,” said Pahana.

“Filling up of an unused pond near the market to extend it further is the only way out,” he said.

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