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HT reader's take: Make apni mandi customer-friendly

Residents visit apni mandis out of sheer compulsion only to return disillusioned. Vendors use every trick in the book to dupe customers of their money: using inaccurate weights, selling more to round-off the price, not following the rate list and obstructing buyers from sifting through fruit and vegetables to choose the good ones. On being questioned, they misbehave with the customers.

chandigarh Updated: May 11, 2015 09:41 IST
Hindustan Times
apni mandi,Chandigarh,vegetables

Officials should wake up and start showing some concern
Residents visit apni mandis out of sheer compulsion only to return disillusioned. Vendors use every trick in the book to dupe customers of their money: using inaccurate weights, selling more to round-off the price, not following the rate list and obstructing buyers from sifting through fruit and vegetables to choose the good ones. On being questioned, they misbehave with the customers. Unlevelled ground makes it difficult for people, especially senior citizens, to move through the insufficient spaces between rows of stalls. Empty cartons, boxes and waste thrown on the passage add to visitors’ woes. However, none of the officials concerned visit these sites to ensure that residents are not exposed to these problems. It’s high time they show some concern and act.

Allow only registered farmers to set up stalls
Only registered farmers who have made a specific payment should be allowed to set up shop at apni mandis. They should have no right to sublet the allotted space. Business hours should be fixed from 1pm to 8pm. Vendors should be made responsible for keeping their stalls and surroundings clean. All scales used at the market should be digital and offenders should be taken to task. As for the authorities, they should provide basic infrastructure at the sites. A covered, well-ventilated and lighted space is must. To check the traffic chaos, self-discipline is the best discipline. Visitors must cooperate and not park their vehicles haphazardly.

Employ more sanitation workers
An apni mandi is intended to be a place where residents can buy fruit and vegetables at reasonable rates comfortably. However, chaos rules at these markets, defeating their very purpose. Cleanliness has gone for a toss and when it drizzles, the area becomes muddy. Why can’t the authorities employ more sanitation workers? In the the garb of study tours, municipal commission officials and councillors go for excursions but bring back no worthwhile knowledge to improve the prevailing conditions.

Consumers should be less tolerant towards irregularities
We all know the problems that are plaguing apni mandis, but it needs to be seen when the authorities will wake up to check irregularities being committed by vendors. Customers are being duped with impunity but there is no one to take action against the vendors. Also, consumers should to be less tolerant towards prevailing irregularities.

Organise apni mandi in each sector to reduce rush
The officials concerned don’t want to wake up from their deep slumber. If the weights and measures department cannot keep a regular check on vendors at apni mandis, then what is the point of having this department? To reduce the rush, every sector should have an apni mandi. Also, with vegetables and fruit being sold at these markets, these need to be kept clean to keep any health hazards at bay.

Don’t allow sale of items other than veggies, fruit
There are mandis operating within apni mandis with outsiders selling not only vegetables and fruit, but also groceries, confectionaries, plastic wares, garments and electronic items besides eatables. This needs to end. Also, there needs to be a digital display board so that everyone entering the market can know the prevailing rates. The authorities concerned should have staff deployed to check traffic congestion, sanitation and accuracy of weights being used till the time vendors wrap up their business.
SK KHOSLA, Chandigarh

Ensure timely lifting of litter
The first and foremost concern is hygiene that is thrown to the wind. The mandi grounds can be seen strewn with waste, making them a breeding ground for mosquitoes and house flies. The authorities need to go in an overdrive to make the innovative idea of apni mandi work instead of letting it turn into an urban mess. The officials concerned must ensure timely lifting of litter. Mobile toilets should be available at the site. Traffic chaos on adjoining roads needs to be checked. Displaying of rate lists must be made mandatory to pre-empt chances of customers being fleeced. Police personnel should be deployed to check pickpocketing and other crimes.

Take to task erring officials
In the absence of regular checks, apni mandis look like any ordinary, disorganised vegetable market where shopkeepers are free to cheat the customers without any fear. The municipal corporation as well as traffic police have to bear the burden of minimising the chaos at and around the mandi sites. The weights and measures department should conduct surprise checks to prevent vendors from fleecing customers. The sanitation department of the MC must wake up to maintain the dignity and sanctity of the City Beautiful. The erring officials must be taken to task.
ASHOK RAHEJA, Ambla Cantonment

Municipal commissioner should implement decisions
A multi-pronged strategy is required to tackle the problem. There is an urgent need to ensure cleanliness at mandi sites. The novel idea of selfcleaning e-toilets, deployed in some parts of Delhi, can be adopted. Also, sanitation workers must be tasked with removing the leftovers. The apni mandi committee should meet regularly. The municipal commissioner must implement decisions taken by the committee. Not just the UT high-ups, ward councillors and residents, too, have to act as watchdogs.

Look for permanent sites for holding mandis
An apni mandi is like two sides of a coin - one side reflecting the convenience to residents to purchase veggies and fruit at low prices close to their homes and the other side reflecting the inconvenience caused by traffic chaos, insanitary surroundings and overcharging by vendors. The MC should look for permanent sites for holding these mandis. Till then, the civic body should provide mobile toilets and clean drinking water at the mandis. The traffic police should control the movement of vehicles. There should be random checking to see if vendors are following all norms and not fleecing the customers. Vacant space adjacent to apni mandis can be used to reduce traffic woes as well as make the mandis less congested.
SUKHPAL SINGH, via email

Install mobile toilets
No one is there to monitor that vegetables are being sold at rates fixed by the regulating authority. The mandi site is not cleaned and smell of rotting vegetables make visitors suffocate. There are no toilets for vendors, forcing them to urinate in the open. The MC should attend to all these problems at the earliest. To start with it, mobile toilets can be installed at mandi sites.
SEEMA BAHGA, Chandigarh

Volunteers should come forth to help staff
With greater patronage and increased number of vehicles, the shopping experience at apni mandis has become a nightmare. Pedestrians walking with loaded bags are constantly at risk of being hit by vehicles. As for hygiene, vending carts are a better option than the ground for displaying goods. Poor sanitation, especially during monsoons, is a cause of concern. At times, it becomes impossible to approach the vendors. All stakeholders, i.e. the municipal corporation, farmers and residents, should work out ways to improve the prevailing condition of apni mandis. Volunteers should come forward to assist the staff concerned.

Clear markets of middlemen
With the passage of time, traders have replaced farmers at apni mandis. The sellers bring vegetables from the Sector-26 market and sell these at a profit, thus defeating the very objective of this concept. Touts can be seen collecting money from unauthorised persons for putting up their stalls at mandis. The authorities must take a strict note of this practice. Only farmers should be allowed to put up their stalls. Besides preventing fleecing of customers, this will also reduce congestion.
DP GAUTAM, via email

Traffic cops should regulate traffic
Apni mandi was a people-friendly concept to benefit both farmers and residents. However, middlemen have changed its character. Also, use of colourful lights to make the vegetables look fresh and no check on weights are adding to visitors’ problems. The traffic police deployed at the sites are only concerned about issuing challans. They neither regulate traffic nor guide the visitors. No authority is bothered about the uneven parking grounds, lack of cleanliness and malpractices.
HS PURI, Chandigarh

Earmark vacant spots for parking
Apni mandis are a blessing when it comes to purchasing our weekly quota of fresh vegetables and fruit. However, two issues need to be tackled on priority: traffic congestion on adjacent roads during the mandi and the trail of garbage left after the mandi gets over. The traffic police should earmark some temporary vacant spots nearby for parking of visitors’ vehicles. For garbage removal and sanitation, MC staff should be deployed overtime and paid extra.

Make vendors display rate list
The civic bodies and mandi boards must wake up from their slumber and address various problems plaguing apni mandis. In the absence of proper checks, the vendors do not display rate lists and overcharge customers. All vendors must be asked to display the rate list and sell their items according to it. No toilets are provided for vendors and the public. They relieve themselves in the open, resulting in foul smell emanating from everywhere. Proper toilets should be provided at the sites. Also, cops should be deployed to ward off pickpockets and snatchers, who otherwise have a field day on the day of apni mandi.

Operate apni mandis in a professional manner
The concept of apni mandis is fine only if it is implemented in a professional manner with regulations and, of course, deterrents in place. Local traders have replaced farmers at these mandis. Rotten vegetables mix with dirt, polluting the site. Organisers never bother to list rates at the entrance. Traffic chaos is the order of the day. All these issues should be addressed to make this concept meaningful.

It is better to buy vegetables from street vendors
Rigged prices, messy sites, noise that causes headache - these are just a few problems faced by visitors at apni mandis. Going to these temporary markets is not worth it. It’s better to buy fresh vegetables from street vendors.

Implement ban on use of polybags
Stray cattle end up eating polybags left along with rotten vegetables at the mandi sites. Therefore, it is important to maintain hygiene at apni mandis, implement the ban on polybags strictly and clean the site soon after farmers and vendors leave. To address the traffic woes, the police should earmark proper space for parking. The visitors must act responsibly and not leave their vehicles on roads. The weights and measures department should appoint a special team to keep a check on vendors operating at the mandis. The health department, too, should appoint inspectors to check the quality of fruit and vegetables being sold.

Authorities must provide basic infrastructure at sites
For the want of adequate support from the authorities concerned, the outcome of the apni-mandi concept is not that encouraging. As far as cleanliness and sanitation facilities are concerned, a half-hearted approach will serve no purpose. The authorities must provide constructed spaces, paths and adequate parking facilities at the mandis for the convenience of customers and vendors. The vendors should be persuaded to help in maintaining cleanliness.

First Published: May 11, 2015 09:33 IST