COVID-19 outbreak in APMC: Vashi vegetable market is back under scanner

Updated: May 08, 2020, 11:25 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

With over 100 testing positive at APMC, Navi Mumbai mayor wants market shut again

Insiders at APMC say traders don't adhere to norms. File pic
Insiders at APMC say traders don't adhere to norms. File pic

With over a 100 people testing positive for COVID-19 at the APMC market in Vashi, Navi Mumbai Mayor Jayawant Sutar has demanded that it be locked down. He has threatened to write to the Maharashtra Governor and to the Central Health Committee Task Force.

Speaking to mid-day, Sutar, the mayor from BJP, said, "As per my information, the APMC already has over 100 cases of Coronavirus. When a positive case was detected on April 28, NMMC Commissioner Annasaheb Misal had ordered to shut the market for 14 days, but had to withdraw the order, after the Konkan Commissioner refused to do so."

"I spoke to Misal again during a conversation with bureaucrats and he has expressed concern over the increasing number of positive cases in the market. But so far, no decision has been taken on shutting it down," said Sutar. "Our job is to bring the matter to the notice of the government and ministers, with whom lies the final decision. If they do not heed our request, we will bring the issue to the notice of the Maharashtra Governor and the Central Health Committee Task Force monitoring the outbreak," Sutar added.

APMC Administrator and Secretary Anil Chavan, said, "As per our record, only 25 staff, including traders, have tested positive. We have been asking for swab test reports from the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC), but for reasons best known to them, they have not shared the reports with us." Chavan added, "We have come to know that in case a trader tests positive, the NMMC will take into account all his family members which will show a higher count."

There has been no decision on closing the market yet. FILE PIC
There has been no decision on closing the market yet. File pic

When asked if they are still contemplating shutting APMC, as suggested by some traders, Chavan said, "We have learnt that government officials are still discussing this and in the next few days, the matter would be clear. Meanwhile, APMC market is functioning with restrictions and if a trader gets infected, we ensure that his galla and the two adjacent gallas are closed and sanitised."

mid-day asked Sutar about NMMC not sharing the test reports with APMC, to which he replied, "There is no reason to not share the information. All COVID-19 cases are told about to the health department and the government daily. So there is no question about APMC claiming lack of information."

A trader who did not wish to be identified, said, "It is unfortunate that the APMC market is becoming a hotspot for COVID-19. Right from the beginning, we have been alerting the APMC committee about an outbreak possibility and that they should shut the market for a few days, but our plea fell on deaf ears."

Blame game over outbreak

Sources in the APMC committee said that as opposed to the 300 trucks allowed in the market per day, traders continue to over-order stock, which is leading to several extra trucks waiting at the truck terminal. This, sources say, is exacerbating the outbreak in the market.

The market also does not have any way to prevent asymptomatic infected people from entering the premises.

Traders, on the other hand, say that the market generates a business of several crores per day and that the committee and the government do not want to interrupt that cash flow. "If someone gets infected in one stall (galla), several other workers working for the particular trader automatically run the risk of getting infected and so do their families. We have suggested that the market be completely shut for one full week with a few days' notice so people can stock up. But even that suggestion is not being taken as it will interrupt the cash flow," another trader who did not wish to be named said.

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