The Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation’s public notice restricting the movement of people between Navi Mumbai and Mumbai has left traders jittery as it can prove to be a hurdle in the functioning of the Vashi APMCs, apart from disrupting the supply of essentials to Mumbai.
NMMC commissioner had said that cases of Covid-19 in Mumbai region are higher and people coming from there are bringing the virus to Navi Mumbai. As a result, an advisory notice was issued saying people coming from Mumbai to Navi Mumbai with the intention of going back will have to find accommodation in Navi Mumbai. THey must either stay in Navi Mumbai or not come to the city at all. Several workers and a large number of traders in Vashi APMCs come from Mumbai and Thane area.
The fear of Covid-19 has spread to the all major segments of Vashi APMC, including grains, vegetables, fruits and spices, which collectively cover 200 acres. The labour force has also reduced significantly, while traders are avoiding coming regularly even as the market remains open.
Business has already been shrinking. The number of trucks sent to Mumbai from the market has reduced from 600 a day to around 300 because transporters are afraid of coming to the Navi Mumbai market. A source said, “Already grain supplies from other places to Vashi have been kept on hold till situation improves at the mandi, as there is acute shortage of labour here.”
With 13 new cases identified in the past one day, the total number of Covid-19 patients connected directly and indirectly to the Vashi APMC yard has jumped to 73 now. And in all of Navi Mumbai, 34 new confirmed Covid-19 cases have been reported, taking the total number to 348.
The increasing number of Covid-19 patients has irked farmers, traders, commission agents and other participants including arhatiyas, retailers buyers and workmen. The pandemic has gripped the entire state of Maharashtra including Mumbai. Hence, the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation has put out a public notice restricting movement of people between Navi Mumbai and the state capital.
“Citizens travelling daily from Navi Mumbai to Mumbai for essential services will be restricted from May 7 to avoid spread of Covid-19,” the notice said.
“The public notice is just a request for traders to arrange temporary shelters for themselves and their workmen in and around Vashi APMC to avoid travelling from Mumbai,” said Anil Chavan, Secretary, APMC Vashi.
Participants at the Vashi Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) in the vegetable mandi are worried and one senior functionary urged the mandi administration to close the market for about two weeks and convert the market yard into a quarantine centre.
He sais, "Since crowding cannot be controlled as the yard is a public place, the marketing department (which controls APMC in Maharashtra) must close the mandi for two weeks to prevent spread of Covid-19 and convert the market yard into a quarantine centre."
Meanwhile, administration of individual section of APMC yard has started taking steps to curb the entry of people. The vegetable and fruit section, for example, has restricted the entry of retail customers. This section's administration has put a minimum purchase limit of Rs 10,000 per person in order to get entry. Earlier, even retail customers seeking 2.5-5 kg of fruits and vegetables were allowed to buy goods of their choice.
“Fruits and vegetables require physical verification of quality. Therefore, trading through telephone etc may not be possible. Only physical participants can check the quality and purchase the quantity as per their requirement. Hence, we have kept the minimum ticket size of purchase at Rs 10,000,” said Chavan.
The grains and spices sections have started encouraging customers to book their quantity through telephone. But, delivery of goods will have be done only from APMC yard. Meetings with various government authorities are underway to find ways to curb unwanted crowding in the APMC yard.
“We have successfully brought down the daily entry of people to 60,000 now from over 100,000 before the nationwide lockdown started from March 25,” said Chavan.
Interestingly, arrivals of grains, fruits and vegetables continued uninterrupted in APMC Vashi. Total arrivals of fruits and vegetables stood at 444 vehicles and 183 vehicles with an average 9 tonnes each. Total arrivals of onion and potato were reported at 36 vehicles of an average 9 tonnes each. With the normal arrival of spices of 72 vehicles and 276 vehicles of grains each of 9 tonnes, the mandi reported a normal arrival of commodities on Tuesday.