Something’s Fishy: The Sights and Smells of a Local Fish Market

By Martin Pheiga

In the evening, if you pass through the Paud Phata Road, Pune, you will be welcomed by the smell of fish and the sight of fish sellers busy cutting and chopping their catch. For the last 45 years, the sellers have continued their trade here. Different vendors have different varieties such as prawns and mackerels to carps and eels. They obtain the fish from wholesale markets such as Ganeshpeth and Kasbapeth which are four to five kms from the market. Some vendors also sell fish they themselves caught or caught by local fishermen.

Carps, Catlas, Eels, Mullets, Prawns, and Popplets.
Fish vendor with her regular customer who she has known for years. 
More customers approach as the sun sets.
The vendor has the most varieties of fish in the entire market.

The Paud Phata Market has decreased in size over the years due to the construction of new urban infrastructures and residential buildings. The residents complaint about the smell of the fish and the vendors are forced to move away from the residential areas to a small unoccupied area under the flyover.

The size of the present Paud Phata Fish Market


This picture shows the earlier extent of the fish market — vendors claim that they used to sell fish as far as Nalstop Chowk

Today, Paud phata market is located at a busy junction where four roads meet. This market has been pushed to the junction because there is a small unoccupied, open space where no residential building is present and a Masjid which has existed as long as the market gives refuge to the vendors. However, the vendors have been losing customers due to the decrease in size of the market and the flyover which obstructs the view of the market from the other side of the road.

The street from the eyes of the fish vendor.

The vendors sit very close to the street as they have limited space and the customers park their vehicles on the road creating more traffic jams. Also with urbanisation, new development plans are being proposed at the site of the market. This makes the fish vendors vulnerable to eviction and relocation. The existence of this small fish is under threat in the years to come.

A board advertises a new real estate development coming up near the location of the fish market.

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:



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