By Avnika Nagar
A market operates on the forces of demand and supply and these act as an invisible hand in the maintenance of an optimum equilibrium. However, there are factors other than the price which affect the sustenance of a market, the location being one of the most important. It is important that a market operates from a place which attracts both buyers and sellers naturally. In the light of the above argument, the ‘Munde Market’ was studied which was set up by The Pune Municipal Corporation on the Kothrud Road in order to relocate the street vendors near the Dahanukar Colony in Pune. However, the market was only built four to five years after the street vendors were driven away from Dahanukar Colony.
After three visits, we realised that the market had only four active vendors — a tea vendor, a laundry shop, a fruit vendor and a betel vendor — who were the primary source of information.
Why was a market which could accommodate 48 vendors left empty?
Unnatural Planted Market: The market is an unnatural planted market and is not a potential site for the operation of the business because of various reasons. The land was allotted to the vendors four to five years after the completion of the construction which made the vendors relocate themselves across different spots from where they could operate their business. “All the vendors who got selected to operate from this market had already relocated themselves to other places to earn their bread and butter,” said a vendor.
Built over a sewage drain: The market has been set up on a sewage drain which makes the inner part of the market smell and this pushes the consumers to consider other possible alternatives nearby. “The inner market smells a lot due to the presence of the sewage beneath and the smell from the adjacent bathroom makes it worse,” said another vendor.
Competition with vendors on the street: Furthermore, the market has been set up in front of a traffic signal which makes it inconvenient for the consumers to park their cars while shopping. One of the factors which retards the efficient functioning of the market is that there are approximately 15 street vendors, right outside the complex on the street, within 100 metres of the market, out of which some are mobile vendors who increase the convenience of the residents in the area. “How will a vegetable shop work here, when outside after every two minutes you have shop selling vegetables and fruits,” said a vendor.
Lack of space: The market has been divided into grids and each grid measures 4/5 ft. After studying the space occupied by the vegetable and fruit vendors in Vitthalwadi market which primarily deals in fruits and vegetables, it was observed that the average space occupied by raw materials of the vendors was approximately 7 x 4 ft and 6 x 4 ft respectively, thus there would be space constraints for the vendors in the Munde market.
Built on a cremation ground: The place where the market existed was a cremation site before, which could create a psychological impact on the consumers. The market also had an alcohol shop adjacent to it which often witnessed cases of drunk people entering the market and misbehaving.
Thus, we see that the piece of land which was used to relocate the street vendors was not planned efficiently. It never had the potential of operating successfully due to its disadvantaged location and the sellers who would inevitably run into the losses. An attempt to relocate them did not help them in any way but aggravated their miseries. First, they lost their business and customers in the former spot. Second, the land which they got was not beneficial for them because of both intrinsic and extrinsic factors and finally they had to relocate themselves which caused further financial stress. Today, the market is almost vacant and has not been subjected to any alternative use. Munde Market sets an example of how poor urban planning leads to the wastage of scarce physical and financial resources.
The summer institute is a full-fledged 3 credits course in the academic calendar of the Masters in Urban Policy and Governance program of the School of Habitat Studies at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. It is conducted as a continuous module of approximately 2 weeks duration, involving immersion in a community and location. This year’s institute studied the socio-political dynamics of street vending, especially in relation to the recent Street Vending Act (2014) that cited key constitutional provisions in support of street vendors and established guidelines for state governments so that the state can safeguard the vendors’ right to livelihood. In the following month, we will be posting some of the students’ research in the form of blogs, photo essays, narratives, life stories and analytical pieces that describe in great detail the everyday lives of vendors and local street markets. Watch this space for more.
To see institute reports from previous batches visit our website: http://urk.tiss.edu/winter-institute.html