STAFF REPORTER IMPHAL, 3rd Jan:
Women vendors are soon likely to resume their trade activities inside the two sheds of Khwairamband Ima Keithel, which were damaged by the 6.7 magnitude earthquake that hit Manipur on January 4, 2016.
Subsequent to the tremor causing substantial damage to the two structures, such as the ceiling part fallen apart and cracks developed on the beams and pillars, retrofitting works were carried out few months after the earthquake, with the state’s PWD as the nodal work agency.
With only the finishing touches remaining for rounding off the repair work and enable the women vendors return to their respective slots, the formal trade activities are scheduled to restart in the two market complexes from January 22.
Out of three market sheds of Khwairamband keithel, also referred to as Ima Keithel (market), shed number 2 named Imoinu and shed number 3 called Phouoibi suffered major damages in the earthquake.
Some PWD engineers who were found supervising the report work, informed this daily that the pending painting works could be completed well ahead of the tentative date being set for the return of the usual trade buzz under the concrete structures, which were strengthened through the retrofitting work carried out as per the study and recommendation of experts from Jadavpur University.
While pointing out that painting the building is inevitable to present the historic market places in a spotless manner, the engineers also expressed confidence that the women vendors could resume trade activities with convenience under the renovated sheds.
Though there is no information on whether the temporary market complex constructed on the eastern side of BT Park will be dismantled or not once the women vendors return to their original place at the repaired market sheds, some persons whom this daily contacted opined that the temporary market shed should be removed.
Considering the fact that noises associated with trade activities have been annoying students of the adjacent Johnstone Higher Secondary School in addition to deterring free passage of fire tenders of Manipur fire service, there is no point in preserving the market shed once the women vendors return to their permanent place of trading, they said.
‘Ima Keithel’ is centuries old and is known as one of the largest women-run markets in Asia. It is not just a market but a sign of empowerment of Manipuri women and usually sees more than 5,000 women selling edibles, cloths and ornamental goods, to name some.
For the record, the then Congress president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi inaugurated the RCC market sheds in 2010.