Stocks running out, overcharging and panic, after lockdown in Mumbai extended till April 30

Updated: Apr 13, 2020, 07:37 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav, Pallavi Smart | Mumbai

Mumbaikars step out believing the lockdown will become more stringent; BMC closes at least one market in Charkop as shoppers crowd it forgetting about social distancing; some shops allegedly raise prices

The BMC and local police shut down a market at Charkop as people crowded it and forgot about social distancing on Sunday. Pic/Nimesh Dave
The BMC and local police shut down a market at Charkop as people crowded it and forgot about social distancing on Sunday. Pic/Nimesh Dave

The state government's decision to continue the lockdown till April 30, has led to panic among some citizens, especially over stocking of food. Many believe the lockdown will become more stringent and had stepped out on Sunday to stock up, but found that most shops were closed. In some places where shops were open, people threw caution to the wind as they forgot about social distancing while shopping. In some places shopkeepers allegedly took advantage of the situation by overcharging.

mid-day visited some areas in the western suburbs including Lokhandwala, Oshiwara and Goregaon and found that only medical and dairy shops were open. In Charkop, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) with help of local police stopped the morning vegetable market, and confiscated the goods of sellers. The locals had crowded the market and had not followed social distancing when they tried to buy as many vegetables as they could.

'Stocks will not last'
Sangita Gaikwad, who runs a vegetable stall in I C Colony, Borivali said, "The vegetable supply is definitely going to get affected with the closing of the APMC. We still have some vegetables to go on for few days, but the way in which people are now shopping, they will not last beyond 3-4 days." Queues outside grocery and other eatables' shops still continued, as many people are returning to them to check if their favourite ready to eat or other items had been restocked.

Ritika Pai shows the bill from a Goregaon shop where she was allegedly overcharged
Ritika Pai shows the bill from a Goregaon shop where she was allegedly overcharged

'Picked from left-over goods'
Prachi Sawant, a resident of Eksar in Borivali, who also went out to shop for vegetables, said, "I was shocked to see the long queue to buy onions and potatoes. I stood in queue for 10 minutes only to realise that not much stock was left in the shop and I had to carefully pick from left-over onions and potatoes. I am sure, many others thought just like me that these two items are the safest ones to keep at home for many days without getting spoilt."

Former corporator from Dahisar, Abhishek Ghosalkar, spoke about how in his locality there is no additional issue of crowds, as every shop and stall strictly follows the social distancing regulations. He said, "I am also promoting use of the sales scheme announced for cooperative housing societies where residents can buy their groceries, fruits and vegetables from their homes; so that very few people will come out on roads to buy even essentials."

Shop allegedly overcharged
But in Aarey Milk Colony, some locals alleged that a super market which was operational, was selling goods at exorbitant rates with the intention to make huge profits. Talking to mid-day, a local resident and snake rescuer Rikita Pai, who had gone to the A to Z super market at Orchard Mall with her friend Kaushal Dubey, alleged that shopkeeper was charging exorbitant rates as other shops in the area were closed.

Police shut the shop
Also a local resident, Dubey tweeted, 'During this Pandemic Situation also A to Z supermarket at orchard mall Goregaon Mumbai 65 is taking advantage from customer rising the price a lot. When asked for bill he's not having the bill no Gumastha no registration number.' (sic) He tagged the Commissioner of Police, the Chief Minister's Office and mid-day. After the tweet he alerted the police control room about the issue after which the police came and closed the shop. Dubey also alleged that the shopkeeper didn't have a proper billing book.

Ritika said, "As the food stock at my home had got over, I and Kaushal went to A to Z supermarket at Royal Palms. After ordering the items, when I was at the counter to pay the bill, I realised that the shopkeeper was charging exorbitant rates."

'Showed bill to police'
"As he was taking the advantage of the common man by charging high rates, Kaushal tweeted about this, tagging the Mumbai police and we even called on the police control number. We are thankful to Sr. PI Nutan Pawar for her cooperation. She has told us that they have informed the BMC ward office which will look into the matter. As the rates were very high, I did not purchase the items but I have a bill that the shopkeeper gave me, which I have shown the police," Ritika added.
"We have informed the concerned officials in the BMC ward about the same and they will take the further action," said Sr PI Pawar from Aarey police station.

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