JORHAT, Sept 7 - Traders, mostly wholesalers of grocery and other items, on the busy AT Road near Nirmal Chariali here closed their shops for over three hours in the morning and blocked the road during a demonstration.
They were protesting against the Government�s decision to allow the Assam State Agricultural Marketing Board to construct a market on the roadside in the area to sell vegetables and fruits. The aggrieved traders contended that the proposed market would adversely affect their business as the entry and exit points of their shops would get blocked and would not be visible to customers.
The traders further stated that as their residences were above or behind the buildings housing their shops, a large number of people would face difficulties in coming out and going to their homes.
The shopkeepers, whose family members also came out to protest, were supported by drivers and owners of small-sized commercial vehicles that are engaged in transportation of goods by shopkeepers.
The vehicle owners opposed the move, stating that there would hardly be any space available to park their vehicles for loading and unloading goods. This will lead to chaos and add to the traffic congestion in one of the most busiest areas of the town.
The protest was staged after the Assam State Agricultural Marketing Board deployed workers to carry out preliminary works on the proposed market in the morning.
Dulichand Agarwal, local trader who is a former secretary of the Upper Assam Chamber of Commerce � a leading traders� organisation � and present executive member of the same body, told The Assam Tribune that the Government was trying to �impose a decision� on the people of the locality, who were opposing the same in view of several serious problems that would come up if the market was constructed. He said that despite the traders and vehicle owners submitting a written objection to the administration a few days back, no attention was paid to their grievances.
As the protesters shouted slogans against the Government and squatted on the road, demanding withdrawal of the decision, more traders from nearby areas came in to support the protest.
Senior police and district administration officials, along with a large number of policemen, arrived at the spot and tried to defuse the situation. It was only after the Jorhat Municipal Board issued a letter, stating that the permission granted by it to construct the market would be stayed for the time being in view of public opposition, that the protest was withdrawn.
The letter further stated that the matter would be discussed with the Assam State Agricultural Marketing Board authorities and a decision would be taken after consulting the local people.