Bhujbal says to start today, board authorities plan phased start from Saturday
In a relief to Mumbaikars, Minister for Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Protection Chhagan Bhujbal on Wednesday announced that the Navi Mumbai Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) will resume regular operations from Thursday, ensuring supply of vegetables to markets in Mumbai and suburban areas.
The news also brings relief to farmers who supply their products to the market. The market was closed for two days, which was beginning to impact supply of vegetables, leading to rise in prices.
“We have opened Dadar and Byculla market from Wednesday and Navi Mumbai APMC would be working from Thursday. There will not be any shortage of supply in any part of Mumbai or suburbs,” said Mr. Bhujbal. He also spoke to the police commissioners of Mumbai and Nashik to ensure the police don’t stop vehicles carrying essential commodities and empty vehicles while returning.
However, APMC authorities said on Wednesday operations would resume only on Saturday, in a phased manner. The decision was taken after two days of meetings between APMC authorities, the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC), Konkan division officials, the police and the regional transport office.
Priority will be given to vegetable and cereals, following which the other markets, including masala, fruits, and onion and potato, will resume. The plan is to get 30% to 40 % of the market functioning in the first phase.
NCP leader Shashikant Shinde, the secretary of the mathadi workers’ union, said, “The market committee has decided to take full precautions, provide masks and sanitisers to each person. To reduce the crowd in the market, we are planning to provide the vegetables directly to retailers.”
NMMC Commissioner Annasaheb Misal said the civic body has instructed the APMC board to find ways to let retailers order stock online or on phone to avoid crowding.
On Wednesday, the APMC board gave a demonstration to all stakeholders on the precautions that have to be practised. “Vendors, purchasers and other stakeholders were told about social distancing, personal sanitisation, thermal scanning and medical emergencies,” Konkan Divisional Commissioner Shivaji Daund said.
Mr. Shinde said they had asked for a list of retailers and at least two general stores in every area where they can directly deliver the essentials. “We also plan to set up a hotline and war room to help vehicles coming from different States. Stickers will be provided to every vehicle, and identity cards will be issued to every staff and driver transporting and delivering the stock. We are short of labourers and are trying to use the manpower we have,” he said.
Sanjay Pansare, secretary of the fruit market, said depending on the success of this system for vegetables, fruit sales will also be started slowly.
Nilesh Veera, director of the grain market, said the board will give another safety demonstration in the market on Thursday. “The Mayor has promised to provide NMMT buses for employees and traders to reach the market. The challenge is to get the market and distribution channel working.”
Isolation rooms by PWD
Meanwhile, Public Works Department (PWD) Minister Ashok Chavan on Wednesday said around 22,118 rooms, which could accommodate 55,707 isolation beds, have been kept ready through his department if needed.
“The PWD has hundreds of buildings in every part of the State. These include guest houses, hostels, new buildings which are yet to be given for public use. These buildings have water and electricity supply. Emergency services in many parts of the State have already started using them,” he said.
Mr. Chavan said that district collectors have been authorised to make the rooms available.
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