Shopkeepers demand reopening of shops inside premises; they have been closed for 11 months
With relaxation of rules, all devotees will be allowed to have darshan at Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple through the four gates from Wednesday.
However, the delay in permitting shops to reopen inside the temple premises, which have remained closed for the past 11 months, has disheartened shopkeepers.
Around 115 shops have been functioning inside the temple premises, says S. Rajanagulu, president of Arulmigu Meenakshi Sundareswarar Kovil Kadaikaarargal Sangam. Products such as thazampoo kungumam, sandhanam, puja items, jewellery, toys and flowers are sold at the shops. But they have remained closed for the past 11 months since the outbreak of COVID-1.
The closure of the shops for nearly a year now has affected all shopkeepers, says P. Pandiarajan, a shopkeeper. “Most of the shops have been functioning continously for at least two generations. The owners have traditionally been dependent on revenue from the shops to make ends meet. They are now struggling to run their families with no income,” he points out.
Some of them have even shifted to other jobs to earn income. “Besides shopowners, workers and other retailers dependent on the shops are also struggling," Mr. Rajanagulu adds.
Mr. Pandiarajan says rules have been relaxed to allow children and senior citizens inside the temple from Wednesday. “Since most of the public activities have returned to normalcy, the shops inside the temple must also be allowed to open. The shopkeepers will comply with all COVID-19 safety precautions,” he adds.
Mr. Rajanagulu says the judiciary issued an order for shifting 40 shops from the temple to a complex under construction at the multi-level car parking on North Aavani Moola Street. “Until construction is completed, the shops must be allowed to function within the temple.”
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