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I-Day gift for vendors

State agriculture and housing minister Yogendra Sao on Thursday inaugurated a three-storeyed daily market-cum-community hall in Harmu, Ranchi, an Independence gift for poor vegetable and fruit vendors.

Developed by Jharkhand State Housing Board, the Rs 3-crore building has come up on a 13,000sqft plot near Harmu Panch Mandir, hardly half a kilometre from the residence of India cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Chief minister Hemant Soren, who had laid its foundation on November 14, 2011, as the then deputy chief minister, was likely to dedicate the market to the poor vendors but could not do the honour owing to time crunch.

Speaking at the inaugural function, Sao directed the board officials to protect the interests of the poor. “After a year-long association with the housing department, I have come to know how politicians and top officials grabbed the board’s land in connivance with its members. However, poor, for whom the board was constituted, remained deprived,” the minister said.

The ground and first floors house a total of 212 shops and three washrooms, while the community hall is on the top floor. There are 12 rooms of varying dimensions with attached washrooms around the community hall, which will be rented for social functions and gatherings. Also, there is a kitchen and a dining hall.

Over 180 out of the 212 shops have been allotted to those vegetable and fruit vendors, who were evicted during anti-encroachment drives in 2011. The remaining 26 shops will be auctioned, while the community hall will be leased out to a party for 10 years following a tender.

Sao urged the board to fix the rent of the community hall while giving it on lease so that even poor people could afford it.

Hatia MLA Naveen Jaiswal, Ranchi mayor Asha Lakra and JSHB managing director Uma Shashi Chatterjee, among others, were present.