Flea market allowed conditionally

| 29 September 2000 22:30 IST

The famous Anjuna market, known more popularly as the flea market, is on. Chief minister has reversed his own decision to ban it, but with conditions in order to control the illicit narcotic trade.

Besides the palm fringed idyllic beachline of Goa, what is equally popular among all the tourists is the 'flea market', held at Dando, every Wednesday. It is the most colourful market among all, but also condemned due to alleged rampant sell of narcotics.

In fact this is the reason why Sardinha had decided to ban the market once again, after one such attempt made by one of his predecessors in 1990. Former chief minister Luis Proto Barbosa had to then re-open it, due to immense pressure from the locals.

"Not a flea market, it is our weekly market, permitted by issuing a proper legal order in December 1990 by the government", says Suhasini Govekar, the lawyer-turned sarpanch. She once again led a villagers' morcha to Sardinha today in protest.

After they were prevented by the police to hold the market on the first Wednesday of the season this week, the villagers have now agreed to Sardinha's suggestion to submit him a written proposal regarding the nature of the market they would allow while also being vigilant about illicit drug trade, especially among the foreigners.

Though they call it a weekly market, the customers are only the tourists – more foreigners than the domestic tourists. Thousands of foreigners, living in small rent-back rooms or hotels, flock to Anjuna every Wednesday to make their weekly provision, riding their hired mobikes or taxis.

The tiny village with hardly 13,000 population eagerly waits for the flea market to begin, which spreads in between the coconut trees and the adjoining fields belonging to three private landowners at Dando, with minimum 2000 stalls. It helps them making good earning while the local panchayat collects revenue in lakhs.

"We divide it very systematically to ease the customer", says Loren D'Costa, president of the Anjuna Market Vendors' Association. There are lots marked for the Kashmiris, Tibetans, Nepalese, Lamanis, Rajasthanis etc who sell clothes and other handicraft items while Goans are placed right in the middle, selling tea, soft drinks and eatables.

"We even have a special lane for the foreigners – around 25 to 30 – who sell clothes or their belongings", says Vinayak Malwankar, a vociferous panch of Anjuna. This lane is also popular among domestic tourists as the needy foreigners sell their electronic items for a song.

In fact the concept of flea market was stared by the hippies in early 80s, when they used to gather at the same place in Anjuna. While many needy foreigners used to sell their electronic items to the locals, majority number of hippies exploited it for selling and buying of narcotics as well as chillam etc.

"We never allow the narcotic sell to happen now, since it simply disrupts our market", says Govekar. She fully agrees with the chief minister, but wonders why the police department does not take action against such offenders.

"I will come down heavily on narcotic traders, unlike in the past", asserts Sardinha. Whether he succeeds or not is yet to be proved, though the Anjuna market however continues to remain a reality, at least for the ongoing season.

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