Vashi market shut, Mumbai faces vegetable shortage

The government of Maharashtra decided to shut operations at the Vashi APMC mandi between May 11 and 17 after confirmed cases of Covid-19 surpassed 80 in the APMC and over 450 across Navi Mumbai, where the mandi is located. 

The Maharashtra government has decided to close the Vashi Agricultural Produce Market Committee for a week to prevent the spread of Covid-19. As a result, there will be no supply of vegetables, fruits and grain from the APMC from May 11. 

In a meeting held with mandi officials, traders and other participants in the agri value chain, Anoop Kumar, principal secretary of the marketing department, government of Maharashtra, decided to shut operations at the APMC Vashi mandi for seven days between May 11 and 17. 

“We have decided to keep APMC Vashi shut 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 for closure arose after confirmed cases of Covid-19 surpassed 80 in the APMC and over 450 across Navi Mumbai, where the mandi is located. 

With the APMC seeing arrival of farmers, traders and arhatiyas (agents), the fear of Covid-19 spread heightened. As Maharashtra is a hotspot with the highest number of cases, the state government is taking all possible measures to control its spread. 

The state government has decided to set up a 1,000-bed Covid-19 hospital in Navi Mumbai near the APMC. 

Earlier, Jaywant Sutar, corporator of the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation, had called for immediate closure of mandi to prevent spread of Covid-19. 

During the closure the mandi will be sanitised. All market participants, including farmers, traders, mandi officials, arhatiyas and workers, will have to undergo health check-ups compulsorily and the reports will be stored with the mandi officials. 

The closure of the APMC is set to paralyse supply of grain, spices, fruits and vegetables to around 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 of the Vashi APMC. 

Interestingly, the state government has converted MMRDA ground in Bandra Kurla Complex and other such large compounds as temporary fruits and vegetable sale yards to ensure sufficient supply. 

Meanwhile, total arrivals of agricultural commodities at the APMC declined by 50 per cent over the past three days as farmers kept away from the mandi. Total arrivals on Friday of all agri commodities were stood at 407 vehicles of 9 tonnes each, compared to 1,050 vehicles reported on Wednesday.

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