Mumbai residents can eat their greens again. From Monday, the state government will supply vegetables to citizens at reduced prices through its several outlets as well as through mobile vegetable vans.
The move has not only brought smiles on to the faces of thousands of Mumbaiites but also made wholesale traders happy who believe it would help reduce the monopoly of retailers. On Saturday, they told SUNDAY MiD DAY that a lot of retailers were taking advantage of the supply crunch to charge exorbitant rates from customers. The government has identified a few co-operative outlets in Parel, Sion, Tilak Nagar, Chembur and Ghatkopar where vegetables would be sold at controlled prices.
Shankar Pingale, vegetable market director of the Agricultural Produce and Marketing Committee (APMC) in Vashi said this was a good initiative from the government and would end the monopoly of retailers to a considerable extent. “Since the time the vegetable prices have gone up, we have heard that retailers across the city have been taking advantage of this situation. In fact, a lot of them have kept the prices high even on those days when the prices of certain vegetables might have fallen,” he said. Now with vegetables being sold at Sahakari Bhandars at certain places across the city, he feels things would change for the better.
Depending on the reaction these cooperative outlets would get from the customers, the government may add to the number of outlets over time. Avinash Patil, deputy secretary of Vashi APMC, said the number of outlets would increase depending on public response. “Initially we are starting with a few centres,” said Patil.
Government's mobile market a hit While most of us may be buying vegetables at sky-rocketing prices, about 1,800 families at Wadala’s Dosti Acres are buying them at a lesser rate. The State government’s Maharashtra State Agricultural Marketing Board (MSAMB) has started a non-profit venture aimed at providing vegetables and fruits at economical prices to consumers. The unique mobile van -- Freshkins -- is currently at the Dosti acres complex in Wadala East. An NGO called Friends of Wadala East has coordinated with MSAMB and Freshkins to bring the van to the complex. Vipul Bondal, a trustee of the NGO said, “The van is functional four days a week within the complex housing over 1,500 families and for the remaining days at a common lane outside, catering to another 100 families. The prices of the vegetables being sold here are considerably less as there are no middlemen involved.”