Coronavirus outbreak: Market out, precautions in for Sahar villagers

Updated: Apr 01, 2020, 08:07 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

Police-public cooperation leads to moving crowded market to outskirts; vendors, locals being counselled and food being supplied to needy amid crisis

People waiting in a queue at Sahar village BMC ground
People waiting in a queue at Sahar village BMC ground

Amid the many steps being taken across the city to curb the spread of Covid-19, residents of Sahar Village have shifted their entire market from the village to an open BMC playground on the outskirts of the village. A brainchild of former corporator (independent) Nicholas Almeida, this was done with the support of Sahar police.

Senior inspector Shashikant Mane supported the cause for the sake of nearly 70,000 people residing in 6,000 houses within the village.

"The market earlier was earlier located within the village in a narrow lane. It would always be crowded and our concern was to prevent any community spread here. We, therefore, decided to shift it to the open ground measuring around 80,000 sq feet," Almeida said.

Directives have also been given to the vendors to sit away from each other, keep hand sanitisers around and wear face masks. They have been told to put all fruit and vegetable waste in a dustbin kept at a central collection centre.

"We have barred children and elders from venturing out of their homes. We have threatened them by saying that we will take photographs of such people and send them to the police," said Almeida.

The vendors have also agreed to sell supplies at nominal rates with all the rates displayed on a blackboard. Also, 25 volunteers from the village have been appointed to monitor the place.

"We have allowed the chicken and meat shops to operate from the village itself but they too must follow the preventive measures," Almeida added.

Free-of-cost rice (200 kg), dal (50 kg), bread (250 packets), milk for children (50 packets) is also being distributed among the needy in the village with the help of some volunteers.

Special sitting arrangements have been made at private doctors' clinics. "We are taking all precautions to keep our 100-year-old village free of any community outbreak of Covid-19. We are happy that people have been cooperative so far," Almeida told mid-day.

Vijay Duble, a vendor and resident of Sahar village, said, "I have been selling leafy vegetables here for two decades. The market is always crowded but this BMC ground is well organised. I am comfortable and sure that I am safe."

Jagdish Gupta, a local fruit vendor, agreed. "Some people complain of the strict measure but we must follow the safety measure to keep Covid-19 at bay and support the police." Senior police inspector Mane said that public announcement systems are being used to council locals residents regularly. "This is a classic example of police and public initiative and participation," said Mane.

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