COVID-19 Lockdown: Fruit prices hit the sky in Borivli

Updated: Apr 18, 2020, 07:29 IST | Pallavi Smart | Mumbai

After BMC closes one of two local fruit markets, locals, vendors accuse civic body of biased approach

A closed Rajendra Nagar wholesale market. Pictures/Nimesh Dave
A closed Rajendra Nagar wholesale market. Pictures/Nimesh Dave

Amid the lockdown, Borivli residents are facing a major issue of heavily priced fruits, thanks to BMC's alleged biased approach. While there are two wholesale markets, the civic body has allowed only one to function while the other one has been forced to shut owing to the due to the health crisis.

But according to the vendors, this double standard approach of the BMC has led to about 50 per cent surge in prices of fruits. Apples which usually cost Rs 200 kg are now being sold at Rs 260-300kg, while for 1kg grapes the price has shot from Rs 100 to Rs 180. Similarly, Watermelon which would cost around Rs 30-35 is now being sold for Rs 60 or above.

Two wholesale markets shut

There are two wholesale markets in Borivli, one in Chikuwadi and another in Rajendra Nagar which has been shut since last 15 days. While it was learnt that the civic body asked to shut the Rajendra Nagar market due to COVID-19 threat, the one in Chikuwadi is running on a daily basis with limited timing. According to fruit vendors, since only one wholesale market is functioning, there is no uniformity in pricing or rather fruits are being charged haphazardly owing to no other option.

Pratap Gupta who runs a fruit stall in I C Colony, said, "Only one wholesale market in Borivli is running and the fruits are being sold at a very high cost. The transporters too are charging heavily in these dire conditions. All this has led to a major surge in price."

 traders loading fruits in a vehicle in Chikuwadi market.
Traders loading fruits in a vehicle in Chikuwadi market

Jaswant Chouhan, who has been running a fruit stall in Borivli's Pai Nagar, has cut down his business from selling 7-8 fruit options to only two as he cannot afford to buy heavily priced fruits and bear loss if the sale is not adequate. "Usually in the wholesale market, where I would buy 10kg grapes for Rs 500, now I have to pay almost the double amount. Same goes for Bananas as well." According to vendors, if both wholesale markets remain open, the pricing will come under control.

Wholesalers deny claims

At the Chikuwadi market, Shashi Pande, a wholesale dealer, denying that there is any heavy pricing; said, "BMC has decided to keep only one market open as there cannot be many places where people start crowding. This market will also be open for a limited time."

"How can they shut one market and allow another to run. Now regular fruit vendors from Borivli have no option but to buy their stock from that single place and manage with at whatever price has been quoted there. It is not possible for all small vendors to get stock from faraway wholesale markets such as Vashi, Dadar," a fruit vendor from Yogi Nagar area said.

When mid-day tried to contact the BMC Ward officer, Bhagyashree Kapse, she remained unavailable to comment.

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