COVID-19 impact: Vegetable market in Vashi to shut after one tests positive

Updated: Apr 10, 2020, 07:08 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

With one person testing positive, area shut down, vegetable supply may be affected

APMC committee says farmers will bring supplies directly to customers
APMC committee says farmers will bring supplies directly to customers

The committee that heads APMC, Vashi, has decided to shut down the market from April 11 in view of a spice trader testing positive for COVID-19 on Thursday. The decision has also been taken keeping in mind the recent spike in positive cases in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane. However, the APMC committee claims farmers will be able to send supplies directly to customers in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai.

While the committee might facilitate such direct supplies, insiders feel there could be a short supply of vegetables and fruits. However, the authorities concerned said that they have supplied sufficient stocks of grain and other essentials to these areas. In view of this, the Pune market will also be shut down.

Speaking to mid-day, Konkan Divisional Commissioner, Shivaji Daund, said, "The APMC committee has taken the decision for a lockdown as a precautionary step. We will monitor the situation and review the same before a decision to reopen the market could be taken, in consultation with all the stakeholders and government."

Will it impact supply?

Shirish Badgujar, assistant secretary, APMC market committee, said, "We will witness a short supply of perishable items like fruits and vegetables, but since the market has already been deregistered, farmers can directly take their supplies to the customers' doorstep."

All traders and visitors at the market are being screened and made to pass through disinfectant chambers before entering the market
All traders and visitors at the market are being screened and made to pass through disinfectant chambers before entering the market

Sashikant Shinde, Mathadi Union Leader and elected member of APMC committee too echoed a similar concern. He said, "On the state government's request, the Mathadi workers and APMC committee had decided to call off the earlier lockdown, which was to continue until March 31, so that people would get a constant supply of vegetables and essentials. The market was a sitting duck for a major community outbreak of COVID-19. The government called for statewide lockdown but there was no restriction on people moving in and out of APMC market. We then decided to reduce the number of trucks/vehicles entering APMC. It was brought down to 350 vehicles per day, which
helped us to manage crowding to a certain extent."

Shinde added, "Majority of the customers were coming from areas like Dharavi, Mankhurd, Govandi, Kurla etc, which have already seen a number of positive COVID-19 cases. This was another reason of our concern. From Saturday (April 11), even the onion and potato market will be shut."

Positive case creates panic

Dr Ajay Patil, medical officer, APMC, said, "We have information that the trader who tested positive was dealing in Anogeissus Latifolia (dink) at the spice market. The trader had been complaining of cough, fever and some other symptoms of Coronavirus."

Dossier

"While he claimed that he had not visited the APMC market since March 20, the situation has led to a lot of panic in the area. Efforts are on to get all those who worked at his shop tested and steps are being taken to trace those who came in contact with him," Dr Patil added. When asked what precautionary steps had been taken at the market, he said, "We were screening all traders and visitors. Sodium hypochloride was being sprayed on trucks/vehicles entering the market, and even people were being made to pass through disinfectant chambers. But all of this goes for a toss with a single positive case getting detected."

Alternate suggestion

A proposal was put before the state administration that the BMC, NMMC and Thane Municipal Corporation should make a list of all the traders in their respective localities and also identify a minimum of four to five shops where all the essentials, including grains, pulses, fruits and vegetables, could be directly sent from APMC in a packed form. The residents of these areas could visit the designated shops and get all the products they need. Moreover, APMC recently set up a war room which could be used to keep a track of required orders from traders based on need and the same be supplied to stores across the city. But for reasons best known to the authorities, the suggestion was not seriously considered.

'Prevent illegal hoarding by traders'

Sashikant Shinde said, "We have already supplied sufficient stocks of food grains in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai. Even if APMC is shut down, we will be able to meet the demand. To prevent hoarding of stocks by traders, the food and civil supply department should check and maintain records of stocks in warehouses and cold storages in and around the city and MMR region."

150
No. of warehouses in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai

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