IMPHAL: Known as the pride of Manipur, the Ima Keithal or mothers market reopened today after it remained closed for almost 11 months due to COVID-19 induced lockdown.
Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh took to Twitter to inform about the reopening of the Ima Keithals, "Extremely glad to re-open Ima Keithel, Imphal from today with COVID situation significantly improving. Timely closure of Ima Keithel from March 21, 2020, helped control the spread of the pandemic up to a large extent. Thanks to all the Imas for their unstinting support & cooperation."
The historic Ima Keithal, a market exclusively run by women in Imphal is also believed to be the largest all-women-run market in Asia and possibly the world.
It was shut down in March 2020, as a precautionary measure to contain the spread of the coronavirus in the state.
Following the closure of the trading activities in the Ima Keithals, it has hugely impacted the economy of the state, especially the women vendors who are the sole bread-winners of their family.
Earlier on the basis of an independent study done by social researcher Serto Tondana Kom it came to the fore that the closure of the markets has caused a loss of Rs 3,879 crore after it was shut down for almost a year.
The study further stated that a total of 3,614 license holder women vendors registered under the Imphal Municipal Corporation (IMC) and who has stalls at Ima market are facing severe hardships to run their families while they continue to await systematic guidelines to reopen the market from the state government.
In November 2020, even though the women vendors have requested the government for permission to reopen the markets for few days, ahead of the Ningol Chakouba Festival, the authorities turned down their request owing to the sharp rise in the Covid-19 cases in the state.
The three iconic markets, namely Purana Keithel, Laxmi Keithel and New market was closed from March 21, 2020.
Meanwhile, a ray of hope emerged following the inauguration of two new Ima Keithal's at Sekmai and Kanglatongbi in Imphal West on January 7. CM Singh laying the foundation stone of the two markets said that it would empower the women of different communities residing in the area in their commercial activities and self-reliance, whilst providing them with immense economic opportunities.
Also Watch: TAYPA Protest to Save Forest Resources