Business at the wholesale Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) market came to a standstill on Thursday with traders protesting against the Centre's proposal to introduce foreign direct investment in the retail sector. Everyone, including traders, middlemen and mathadis (headloaders) supported the countrywide bandh called by the Opposition and some trade organisations.
All five markets at the APMC — onion and potato market, condiments and spices market, foodgrains and pulses market, the fruit market and the vegetable market —remained closed. Since vegetables are essential commodities and perishable, the vegetable market is usually exempted from bandhs. But that wasn't the case on Thursday.
Each day, around 3,500 trucks bring in commodities to the APMC market and about 5,000 vehicles ship these out to retailers in and around Mumbai. On Thursday, only 100-150 trucks came to the market, but even these had to be parked outside and no loading or unloading took place.
As a mark of protest, an effigy symbolising the FDI was burnt in the fruit market premises. Kirti Rana, president of Confederation of All India Traders, Maharashtra, said, “20,000 shops in the five markets remained closed. All the stakeholders of the market are united on the issue. The government will have to first talk to retailers and other stakeholders before bringing in any such law.”
“We are against the Central government's decision to introduce FDI and hence supported the bandh,” said mathadi leader Narendra Patil. “A number of retailers in Navi Mumbai too observed a bandh. If the government still doesn't accept our demands, we will go on an indefinite strike,” he said.