KATHMANDU, July 17: Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market Development Board and traders at Kalimati market have submitted their statements at Kathmandu District Court on Monday, regarding a case filed by the traders against the board. It is likely that the court will take one or two more days to give its verdict on the case.
Two weeks ago, a team of 24 traders operating inside the Kalimati fruits and vegetable market had filed a case against the board, demanding scraping of the board’s decision to cancel their permits to have stalls inside the market.
“This has made our work a little complicated as we cannot take any decisions till the court gives its verdict,” Tejendra Prasad Poudel, executive director of the board, told Republica. He however said that the board’s ongoing investigations on the traders would not be affected.
“Clarification documents of 98 traders who have been categorized in red group were submitted at the board meeting held on Monday. The next meeting will be held on July 27, when the board will take a decision about the traders categorized in red group,” Poudel added.
“The court’s decision might impact our action against the traders,” he said, adding: “So now we are waiting for the court’s decision.”
The board had classified traders into four groups -- Red, Blue, Yellow and White after the Ministry of Agriculture, Land Management and Cooperatives had inspected the Kalimati market and found irregularities in the stall operation.
Traders, who have been leasing out their stalls at the Kalimati market to other traders at higher price, have been categorized into red group. The board had taken a decision to scrap stall license of guilty traders.
“We had no other choice than scrapping their license,” Poudel told Republica.
On the other hand, the penalized traders have blamed the board for being biased against them. “Those who are the real guilty but who have good access to powerful people have been excused by the board. The board it taking action only against those who do not have power connections,” said Shyam Kanta Poudel, a trader at the Kalimati market.
“Among the traders, senior citizens, disabled people, and single women are being punished by the board,” he said. “Of course the board can take action against the guilty, but in the name of taking action, they should not victimize the innocent.”
Khom Prashad Ghimire, president of Federation of Fruits and Vegetable Entrepreneurs Nepal (FEFVEN) has said that the board has to be impartial while taking decision over traders of Kalimati.
“As Kalimati is a major market for the entire country owned by the government, it should always be impartial,” Ghimire said, adding: “No farmers or traders should be troubled in the name of government investigations.”
“Of course there are irregularities in the Kalimati market, but that does not mean all traders of the market should be blamed,” Ghimire told Republica. He further said that the market administration has weak rules and regulations. “If the board had strong regulations and if the authorities had implemented it strictly, then this day would have never come,” he said. He further urged the board to conduct investigation in an unbiased way, and not to trouble those who are dependent on the stalls for survival.
The board started action against the traders after Minister for Agricultural, Land and Cooperative, Chakra Pani Khanal, announced to end cartel of some traders in the Kalimati vegetables market.