Ima Keithel yet to reopen

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Imphal: Khwairamband Ima Keithel (unique women market) situated in the heart of Imphal city of Manipur is yet to reopen even if the government allows to reopen it from Wednesday.

The constituent markets of Ima Keithel–the three Ima Keithel markets and Temporary Market were shut down for the first time on March 21, 2020 in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. It was reopened on February 15 and have been shut down since April 21 with rising Covid-19 cases.

Manipur government on Tuesday issued an order lelaxing certain restrictions, which allows to reopen the market on the next day.

The state home department in its order mentioned that each vendor may be given an opportunity to sell goods twice a week. It suggested the Imphal Municipal Corporation to devide the vendors in three groups by following the stall numbers on rotation basis ensuring 6 feet physical distancing between vendors.

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However, the vendors were not willing to reopen the market for fear of continuing Covid-19 crisis.

On Wednesday the active cases in the state was 2214. The state reported 171 new cases and one death case.

Representatives of three Khwairamband Ima Keithel condemned the state government order allowing to reopen the market.

Reopening of the market is not yet decided as it is unpredictable what would happen when it is reopened, Nupi Keithel Sinfam Amadi Saktam Kanba Lup president Thoudam ongbi Shanti Devi, said.

The vendors will not take risk to earn profit. When the Ima markets were allowed to open during Holy and Cheiraoba festivals in February-April more than 20 vendors were succumbed to Covid-19, she added.

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The representatives of the three constituent markets and chief minister had earlier discussed for reopening of the market, but the decision to open has not yet been taken to open the market, she said.

The goverment seems to be issued as the state Assembly Election is approaching, she added.

If the government allows to open the market it should be able to control the vendors in vending on rotational basis, she added.

Shanti asked if the government be able to control the street vendors that have been increased to double after the state government issued street vendor loan.

There are more than 3,000 vendors in the three Ima Keithel markets and before issuing the order the state government should consult the representatives of the markets so for the arrangement of seats for rotational basis. No women vendor will follow the rotational seat issued by the state government as the rules and regulation in markets is totally different, Shanti, said.

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General secretary of the organisation, Thingujam Rani said the state government should discuss with the the market representatives about 10 days ahead before issuing such order. No consent was taken from the representatives of markets and IMC officials. Issuing order is easy but implementing it is not an easy task, she added.

The rotational vending may not be applicable for the vendors for who sells perishable items, she said.

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