Coronavirus outbreak: APMC to resume operations on Saturday
APMC committee reverses closure decision after CM assures of regular supply of essentials; local vegetable vendors fret over supply
With the country going into lockdown and CM Uddhav Thackeray assuring of uninterrupted supply of food, the APMC committee had to change its mind and will reopen on Saturday.
The market had on March 24 decided to close until March 31 amid the Coronavirus pandemic.
Sanjay Pansare, director, fruit market, said, "The lockdown was in the larger interest of 40,000 traders, and their families. We were firm on the closure but after the government's request, we are contemplating all possibilities."
Shishir Badgujar, Assistant Secretary, Administration said that a meeting was held on Wednesday with senior inspector of APMC police, Satish Nikam, MLA Sashikant Shinde and former MLA Narendra Patil, and others.
Vegetable and onion and potato market will open at 5 am. Only the trucks laden with produce will be allowed inside. "The earlier decided closure every Thursday and Sunday to disinfect the market remains," Badgujar said.
There are 900 gallas in the vegetable market. Each trader may unload only one truck (with 10 tonnes) of vegetables. "Though no confirmation has been received from the State, we hope trucks carrying farm produce from other states are allowed in because the state borders are sealed," said Badgujar.
APMC will also request the BEST and NMMC's transport section to arrange special buses for traders coming from Dadar, Borivli and Belapur. "The buses can be sanitised before entry. Wearing masks will be compulsory. Hand sanitisers, soap and water will be provided by the committee," Badgujar added.
Ashok Walunj, director, onion and potato market, said that guards deployed at entry and exit points will disallow anyone showing symptoms of fever, cough or cold from entering. "Those coming to APMC will also be given passes so they don't face hardships," said Walunj. With around 250 gallas, the market will allow 50 to 60 trucks inside. "It will take eight to ten days for the supply flow to become normal," Walunj added.
Gulab A, a vegetable vendor in Navi Mumbai, is unsure about a regular supply. "It is impossible to discipline thousands of people, mathadi workers, traders and public. Also, the supply will dip as stocks would be in short supply. Prices have already shot up. Lady's finger, which cost '40/kg was being sold for '80, cauliflower was being sold at '60/kg instead of '40/kg," said Gulab.
Dry fruit, spice market shut
Shailesh Ashar, a trader dealing in cashews and operating from the dry fruit market said, "The dry fruit and spice market in APMC will remain under lockdown till April 14. These are not essential commodities like vegetables and food grains. The import of dry fruits from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, UAE, Africa, etc has stopped due to COVID-19." Unless the outbreak is controlled, Ashar said traders will face problems as there will be a huge demand for dates and other dry fruits during Ramzan.
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