More than 300 vendors of the Khadgarha vegetable market at Ratu started an indefinite strike on Tuesday protesting against what they called “abuse and extortion” by the contractor, forcing local residents to head to other markets of the state capital to buy their daily greens.
Khadgarha is one among the biggest vegetable markets of the state capital where sellers run their stalls for the past two decades on land owned by Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC).
The vegetable vendors at Khadgarha market, who are mostly small-time sellers, also lodged a written complaint against the contractor, Chandan Singh, at Sukhdeonagar police station.
“Now we are fed-up with the abuse and extortion by contractors. We have decided to continue our strike till our problem is resolved by RMC,” said Ajay Kumar, a vendor at the Khadgarha vegetable market.
Earlier, the vendors used to pay Rs 5 to the per day to the RMC as tax. Around five years back, the civic body constructed a four-storey building for the sellers and fixed a nominal amount of Rs 15 per day as rent.
Every year, the RMC auctions the contract for the vegetable market.
“Whosoever gets the contract, he starts fleecing and abusing us and this contractor is doing the same thing,” Sanjay, another vegetable seller at the Khadgarha market, said. “He charges randomly and when we refuse to pay him more than Rs 15 he starts threatening us. We are ready to pay rent to RMC but not the contractor.”
The vegetable sellers said they had approached Ranchi deputy mayor Sanjeev Vijayvargiya and officials of the RMC’s market section.
The sellers alleged that the deputy mayor and civic body officials showed no interest and rather had asked the vendors to find a solution on their own. The Telegraph tried to contact assistant municipal commissioner Rajnish Kumar and Sandeep Kumar Karna of the RMC’s market section, but they did not respond to phone calls.
A vast population of people who live along Ratu road, Khadgarha, Sukhdeonagar, Kishoreganj and other neighbouring localities depend upon this vegetable market.
“This market is close to my residence so it is convenient for me to to get fresh vegetables every morning,” said Amit Mishra, a resident of Alkapuri. “Today (Tuesday) I invited around 30 friends for dinner at my house. But when I visited the Khadgarha vegetable market I found the vegetable sellers holding a meeting and raising slogans. I had to buy vegetables from Naga Baba, about 5km from my house.”