Manipur earthquake: Mothers at historic market fret over shutdown

One of 800-odd women with a fixed space in the Imoinu Keithel, Satyabati Devi was earning up to Rs 1,000 a day.

Written by Samudra Gupta Kashyap | Imphal | Published: January 6, 2016 2:04 am

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M Satyabati Devi, 61, sold mosquito nets Ima Keithel, Imphal’s historic mothers’ market. Until Monday’s earthquake. With several pillars and walls damaged, part of the market has been shut indefinitely.

“I run my family by selling mosquito nets here,” Satyabati said. “With the Imoinu Keithel block closed, it is not only my family that will face problems, but also those of 20 women who sew nets for my stall,” she said.

One of 800-odd women with a fixed space in the Imoinu Keithel, Satyabati Devi was earning up to Rs 1,000 a day. “Since I also manufacture designer nets for weddings, my monthly sale during the wedding season goes up to Rs 1 lakh,” she said. For the 3 × 3 sq ft space she has been using for more than 25 years, she has to pay a monthly rent of Rs 90.

“A delegation of our association met the chief minister today, and he has assured us he will do something. But it will take time, we should be immediately allotted alternative space,” said G Gyaneswari Devi, 70, who sells puja-related items to supplement her ex-serviceman husband’s pension.

The entire Imoinu Keithel has been shut with at least ten pillars as well as the ceiling damaged. The Leimarel Shidabi Keithel has been partially shut after two pillars and a wall were damaged. The third block, Phouoibi Keithelm, is unaffected. The three blocks together have 4,300 women vendors. “There will be 300 like me who are above 70,” said Pramodini Devi, who sells vegetables.

“It will take some time to work out the cost of the damage. Since Ima Keithel is a pride of Imphal, we will get structural experts from IIT Kharagpur or Roorkee,” said Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh.

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