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Flourishing, but running illegally: 10 fire incidents at Chandigarh furniture market in 10 yrs

These are markets where one can buy a variety of items. But the markets do not have any authorisation, and their fate is uncertain

Written by Meghna Malik | Chandigarh | Published: October 5, 2015 7:32:43 am
chandigarh fire, chandigarh market fire, chandigarh sector 53, chandigarh sector 53 market fire, chandigarh sec 53 market fire, chandigarh news The unauthorised furniture market on the Landran-Mohali road. (Express Photo by Jasbir Malhi)

THE UNAUTHORISED furniture market in Sector 53, which has over 100 shops, was set up over 30 years ago on what was formerly an agricultural land. Thirty years later, the government has failed to take a decision on the relocation of the shopkeepers to an alternative site.

“The UT government carried out a survey of the shops to shift us in 2009, but there has been no implementation of the same so far. Former UT administrator Gen (Retd) S F Rodrigues had assured us that we would be relocated, but in vain,” says the owner of a small furniture shop at the market. At this furniture market, furniture from Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh is sold.

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The furniture market is on the main road to Mohali, and witnesses a lot of traffic. The shopkeepers say that the police authorities arrive at the market time and again, asking them not to place their furniture out on the roads. Even for customers, parking is a major issue, as due to lack of any other option, they are forced to park on the main road.

“I have parked my vehicle outside a furniture shop for now, since I am looking around. But I am concerned that the police might actually tow my car away,” says Dileep, a customer.

The market sees more than 500 customers on a daily basis. According to a furniture trader at the market, sometimes during the weekends, the situation gets worse, resulting in jams that last for hours.

Over the years, the furniture market has also been prone to incidents of fire incidents. Just last week, seven shops were gutted by fire at the market, which happened to be the 10th fire incident here in the last 10 years. After the latest fire incident, the shopkeepers of the market had handed over yet another memorandum to the administration, requesting them to authorise the market, or to relocate them to a separate place.

A total of seven fire incidents have happened at the market. The officials of the fire department express helplessness in issuing notices for violation of fire safety norms as the market is not authorised.

In 1993, the traders and shopkeepers got a stay order from the Punjab and Haryana High Court, after the UT Administration had tried to evict them, stating that they were running the business illegally. A case is going on in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

“We pay all the taxes, yet we have not been guaranteed authorised land, which is a major failure on the part of the government. All the traders of the market are ready to move to another place, if only the government pays heed. Hopefully, some day, our pleas will be heard,” says Satish Yadav, a shop owner.

The shopkeepers maintain that the administration should offer them shops at reasonable prices at an alternative location. “If the administration auctions the sites, we will not be able to bid. The furniture market is the need of the city,” says another shopkeeper.

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