The government of Maharashtra has decided to keep Vashi Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) shut for a week to prevent the spread of Covid-19, which has started infecting market participants rapidly. As a result, the supply of vegetables, fruits and grains from this market Vashi APMC will cease from May 11 after market is closed.
In a meeting held with mandi officials, traders and other participants in the agri value chain, Anoop Kumar, Principal Secretary, Marketing Department, Government of Maharashtra, decided to shut operations at APMC Vashi mandi for seven days between May 11 and 17.
“We have decided to keep APMC Vashi shut for the period between May 11 and 17 due to widening spread of coronavirus cases. We are also making alternative arrangements for supply of agricultural commodities to consumers,” said Kumar.
The need to close Vashi mandi arose after confirmed Covid-19 cases surpassed 80 within the APMC itself and shot past 450 across Navi Mumbai, where this mandi situated. With APMC witnessing the entry of farmers, traders and arhatiyas from across several places, the fear of the spread widened. With Maharashtra becoming the national hotspot with the highest number of Covid cases, the state government is taking all possible measures to contain the pandemic.
The state government has decided to set up 1,000-bed Covid-19 hospital in Navi Mumbai near APMC Vashi.
Earlier, Jaywant Sutar, Corporator, Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation, had called for immediate closure of mandi to prevent spread of Covid-19.
During this period, however, all sections of the mandi including grains, spices, fruits and vegetables would be sanitized. All market participants including farmers, traders, mandi officials, arhatiyas and workers will have to undergo health check ups compulsorily of which reports would be stored with the mandi officials for future verification.
The closure of APMC mandi is set to paralyse supply of grains, spices, fruits and vegetables to nearly 20 million citizens of Mumbai and millions of others in suburbs.
“We are planning to supply to wholesalers in and across Mumbai as much quantity as possible so that there would not be any dearth of supply of essential commodities due to closure of Vashi APMC. Farmers are also allowed to supply directly to consumers,” said Sunil Singatkar, Director, Vashi APMC.
Interestingly, the state government has converted MMRDA ground in Bandra Kurla Comples and other such large compounds as temporary fruits and vegetable selling yards to avoid their shortage.
Meanwhile, total arrivals of all agricultural commodities in APMC Vashi declined steadily by 50 per cent over the last three days as farmers abstained from bringing in their produce to the mandi.
Total arrivals of all agri commodities put together was recorded at 407 vehicles of 9 tonnes each early Friday morning as compared to 1050 vehicles of 9 tonnes each reported on Wednesday.