Jawalamukhi: Due to the apathy of the Government and a row over the allotment of shops to shopkeepers, the new shopping complex set up at Jwalamukhi has been lying unused for the past five-and-half years. While the people have been facing lot of problems in the existing market, the government has also been suffering financial losses in terms of shop rent.
The existing market in the heart of the town is very congested. A view at the market presents a disordered look with mud and garbage scattered all over and a foul stink in the air. Stray cattle around the market usually block traffic on the Nadaun road on which the market is situated.
The market has not been able to cater to the needs of the fast-increasing population of the town. Both Vegetable growers and consumers have to face a lot of hardship. The then Chief Minister, Mr. Virbhadra Singh, approved the said shopping complex at Jwalamukhi in 1996 and the first phase of the Complex was completed in 1998 and construction work is still going on.The shopping complex was constructed by the Block Smitti Dehra and more than 35 Lakh have been spent on the project. The complex has a provision of 170 shops including 10-room guest house, a bank building.
Although the construction in first phase of the complex was completed one-and-a-half year ago, the administration has not been able to start the process of shifting the vegetable market to its new venue.
According to sources, the monthly rent of the shops is expected to be increased by over 50 percent after the allotment of shops. A dispute over the allotment of the shops in the complex is said to be one of the reasons behind the inordinate delay. The local traders have been demanding that the shops should be allotted to them on reasonable rent, whereas the authority wants to allot the shops on latest market rates.
Inquiries made by this correspondent revealed that 15 shops were recently allotted to some persons. Due to this, resentment prevails among shopkeepers and they alleged the shops were allotted to those very persons who are already enchrochers or who have been intentionally and purposely favoured by the Block Authorities.
A ticklish problem has cropped up, where allotment has been done to the persons who have already their shops in the city, it is further alleged that at least two shops were allotted to the relatives of a senior functionary of the BLOCK SMITTI. Not only that, certain allottees have sublet those very shops, after having involved in secret deal of handsome amount. In the process, certain individuals have made considerable amount whereas some have been deprived of their genuine right. Although the state Chief Minister Prof. Prem Kumar Dhumal has assured the shopkeepers to set-up a high-level inquiry into the matter. But no body has tried to solve the problem of traders and to investigate the sordid state of affair. Not withstanding efforts have been made to hush up the matter.