Mumbai to get uninterrupted vegetable and fruit supplies under lockdown

Topics Coronavirus | APMC | Lockdown

The Maharashtra govt has formed a group of retailers whom the food department interacts with on a regular basis and addresses issues regarding to movement of farm produce, trucks and manpower. PTI
Four days after its closure, the Vashi Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC), the sole mandi supplying essential commodities to Mumbai and its suburbs, is resuming operations from Wednesday.

 
Simultaneously, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has arranged for selling vegetables and fruit in large grounds, including  the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) ground in Bandra and Somaiya  in Sion.

The Vashi mandi had been shut as a preventive measure on April 11 as coronavirus cases sprouted across the city. The closure of Vashi and other APMCs across the state created a shortage of essential commodities.

Both central and state governments have assured consumers of smooth supply of essential commodities during the lockdown, which has now been extended till May 3. “The closure of various APMCs has created issues related to the supply of essential commodities. But, the gradual opening of APMCs will smoothen their supply. With the Vashi APMC opening on Wednesday, the supply of essential commodities will ease in a couple of days,” said Sanjay Khandare, food and civil supplies secretary, the Government of Maharashtra.

 

 
The mandi closure had led the prices of fruit and vegetables to skyrocket. Tomato in Mumbai's western suburb is currently selling at Rs 60 a kg, six times higher than its price before the lockdown. Similarly, green vegetables like cauliflower, okara, and brinjal are being sold between Rs 100 a kg and Rs 120 a kg. 

Apple, which was available at Rs 80-100 a kg before the lockdown, has jumped to Rs 160-200 a kg now. While the grapes season is nearing to an end, the Nashik-centric fruit is available at Rs 120-140 a kg now, as against Rs 60-80 a kg before the restrictions were imposed.

Meanwhile, the BMC and the state authorities have converted the MMRDA ground at Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) in central Mumbai into a temporary mandi, along with Somaiya ground at Chunabhathi (Sion), for the benefit of traders and consumers. These mandis are meant to operate during the night to avoid crowding.

“Around 450 trucks are carrying nine tonnes of vegetables each to the temporary mandis at BKC and Sion. We are expecting arrivals of only 250 trucks at Vashi on Wednesday,” said Sunil Singatkar, director, APMC, Vashi.

The state government has also formed a group of retailers, which whom the food department interacts regularly and looks to address issues arising out of the restricted supply of agricultural commodities.

“But, in some places, retailers are facing problems related to transportation of goods because of police intervention. Besides, local bodies issue certain directions hampering transportation of essential commodities. We have issued orders superseding all such directions issued by local bodies as the supply of essential commodities is beyond all restrictions,” said Khandare.

In terms of foodgrain supply, the government has covered around 100 million of the 120 million population of the state. The state government is providing wheat at a subsidised rate of Rs 8 a kg and rice at Rs 12 a kg for those belonging to the above poverty line (APL) category and free to the below poverty line (BPL) category.


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