the Campaign for Peace & Democracy (Manipur)
Ref. No: 20100902 PR 1
2 September 2010
A delegation of the women representatives from the two organizations namely, the Khwairamband Nupi Keithal Vendors Welfare Association, Manipur and Road side Vendors Welfare Association, Khwairamband Keithal have visited Delhi to raise demand and at the same time to highlight the plight of the women traders of the Ima Keithal against the backdrop of the ongoing reconstruction process of Ima Keithal and seat allocation controversy. The delegation was comprised of Laishram Mema, Wahengbam Inaobi, Soibam Bilashini, Mangshatabam Premila and Kshetri Tama.
The delegation on Wednesday, 1st Sept. 2010, submitted memorandums to the Prime Minister of the India and Chief Minister of Manipur. The memorandums has demanded: allocation of seat and shed to the original license holders; arrangement for accommodation and allocation of license & seat to recognized streets vendors; involvement of the representatives of the women traders while carrying out arrangement/ allocation of seats by the government authority; restoration of traditional market sheds such as Heingan Yonfam, and Langthabal Potfam, etc.
The delegation on Thursday, 2nd Sept. 2010, held a press Conference from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Press Club of India, New Delhi. The Press Conference that was conducted by the CPDM and addressed by L. Mema from KNKVWA was attended by media persons, individuals, Manipuri students, and representatives of various civil society organizations such as the Campaign for Peace & Democracy (Manipur), Revolutionary Democracy, Women’s Feature Service, Lok Raj Sangathan, Hmar Welfare Association Delhi, CPI(ML), Committee Against Violence on Women, Manipur Students’ Association Delhi, Samyak Bharat, Delhi Association for Manipur Muslim Students, Progressive Democratic Students’ Union, etc.
In her statement Laishram Mema had demanded for collective efforts towards economic justice, and transparency & accountability in both the processes of construction the Ima Keithal and allocation of seats to those genuine women traders who are physically involved in trading. Two other representatives Inaobi and Bilashini had deliberated oral testimony focusing on the plight of the women street vendors who for want of space to carry on trading had been regularly extorted and harassed by the police and concerned officials. The testimonies were followed by solidarity statement delivered by representatives of progressive organizations. It was followed by interactions. The press conference was concluded at 1 p.m. The press statement that was circulated at the press conference is being attached below.
2 September 2010
Condemn Attack on Ima Keithel: Condemn Mismanagement Deliberated by the Government
Venue: Press Club of India, New Delhi
Date: Thursday, 2nd September 2010
Time: 11 am to 2 pm.
Thousands of women traders of Ima Keithel (lit. Market of the mothers) in the heart of the Imphal City of Manipur have been systematically displaced and marginalized over the last few years in the name of modernization of the Keithel by the Manipur State Government. The apprehension about and the plight of losing the trading opportunity to higher bidders has not been adequately addressed. The democratic demands to deliver with economic justice to the displaced women traders have been repeatedly suppressed. The Central Government has remained a mute spectator and has been allowing the reign of corruption, bribery, favoritism and mismanagement in the allocation of seats and the construction process of the Keithel. In connection to the issue, we, the women representatives of the Khwairamband Nupi Keithel Vendors’ Welfare Association have come to Delhi to highlight the plight and the helpless voice of the women traders who have been victims of the enforced displacement.
Perhaps, the Ima Keithel, which is located in the heart of the Imphal city, accommodates about 4000 women trade license holders and about 5000 street vendors. The Keithel is historically significant because it is run exclusively by women from different parts of Manipur. It is one of the oldest market places and clearly stands out as the cradle of the fervent economic, social and political activities of women in Manipur. About half a decade year back the Government of Manipur, on the pretext of urban modernization projects, had started reconstruction of the pre-existing three markets that constitute the Ima Keithel. We had welcomed the project. However, it had been a matter of controversy and unrest ever since the nefarious nexus of political leaders, bureaucrats, contractors and big business houses began to play opportunism with the project to take control of the market seats into their corrupt pockets. Corrupt practice of the State officials shows its sole care for the gains of the privileged sections out of the pains of the most of the world of lives and hopes of those who are far, distant, low and bare.
Mismanagement and anomaly in the construction process and allocation of seats had been exposed times and again. As of now we have found out:
- The government had not fulfilled the terms and conditions of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) jointly signed by the representatives of the Ima Keithel and the Manipur Government on 19 April 2005.
- Arbitrary cancellation of some of the non-transferable permanent licenses and forcibly conversion of some of the permanent license holders to the devalued category of temporary license holders.
- The Government till date has not made into public the blue print of the construction project including the total number of sheds & seats to be constructed, allocation plan, amenities and other facilities.
- The Government since the 19th April 2005 MoU has not respond to the repeated appeals and memorials presented by the women traders seeking for permission to have meaningful discussion on the issues mentioned above.
- There has been neither an announcement of the list of the original permanent license holders nor a written assurance to allocation of seat to the license holders.
- The Government of Manipur has yet to implement the aims & objectives of the Street Vendors Bill and the National Policy on Urban Street Vendors 2009 as recommended by the Government of India.
As a result, what comes out of this mega project is the tragedy of loss of livelihood and hopes to several women traders of the Ima Keithel. While many women who had been doing business had already lost their allocations, many who are yet to get are not in the position to get the allocated seats any more. And the most impending is the loss of hopes for widowed victims of armed conflict and those who regularly come from far off places to the Keithel to earn a day’s meager income. As consequently the Government has now pushed Manipur into another level of trouble in its urban construction sector, thereby, exasperating rural urban divide in terms of trading opportunity on the one hand and further widening the gap between the privileged and the marginalized on the other hand.
We, representing the economic interest of the thousands of women traders of the Ima Keithel, therefore, demanded that:
- The seats for original license holders who are being temporarily accommodated to trading in the temporary market sheds located at the then Imphal District Hospital site be allocated to the newly constructed women markets with effect from the day of the inauguration of the women markets.
- Seat & shed be allocated to the license holders who till date have not been allocated seat & shed to carry out their respective trade.
- The existing temporary market sheds which are at present allocated to some of the license holders, after being vacated by the later as a result of allocation to the new women markets, be available for allotment to the existing street vendors.
- Seat arrangement / allocation in the Ima Keithel should be carried out by the Government in consultation with and involvement of the representatives of the Ima Keithel.
- The Government of Manipur must fulfill the terms and conditions of the MoU of 19 April 2005.
We believe that the struggle for economic earning in this particular case is not merely a fight against corruption alone but a fight against the ideology of the domination which makes possible for the corrupt officials to grow and thrive. We, therefore, express the plight of the thousands of women traders in Manipur, protest the material implication of domination by the corrupt officials and the nefarious designs of displacement, and appeal to all the likeminded organizations and individuals to join hands to adequately address the concerned crisis that remains unresolved for several years.
Khwairamband Nupi Keithel Vendors Welfare Association, Manipur.
New Delhi: 2nd September, 2010