Traders crowd Ghazipur market, social distancing norms flouted
Market officials attributed the rush to the changed timings and new guidelines issued by the district administration, according to which visitors are allowed to shop between 6am and 11am, after goods are unloaded between 4am and 6am.Updated: May 02, 2020 02:45 IST
Social distancing norms went for a toss at the Ghazipur fruit and vegetable wholesale market in east Delhi, as people crowded the market on Friday morning. Around 6am, traders started queuing up to enter the market and the barricades set up at the entry and exit points, to regulate movement, were pushed aside by the crowd. Some people were also seen without masks, despite government mandating it.
Market officials attributed the rush to the changed timings and new guidelines issued by the district administration, according to which visitors are allowed to shop between 6am and 11am, after goods are unloaded between 4am and 6am.
SP Gupta, chairman Ghazipur Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC), said, “Normally, traders from nearby markets in Shahdara and Geeta Colony start coming to the mandi from 3am and return by 6am. But due to changed timings, mandi gates were closed for traders till 6am, due to which long queues formed, which later swelled into a huge crowd.”
The police registered five cases of lockdown violations against traders on Friday.
Ghazipur Mandi is the second-largest wholesale vegetable and fruit market in the city. It is spread over an area of one square kilometre area and receives supplies from around 400 trucks per day.
A police officer, who did not wish to be named, said that the traders who had come to the market from 3am to 6am were not allowed to enter and they started queueing up.
“Many small traders and vendors used to start selling vegetables in their vehicles at the mandi itself, which led to a crowd. Social distancing norms were completely flouted. A similar situation had arisen on Wednesday when the footfall at the mandi had almost tripled because of the coronavirus cases reported from other mandis. On Thursday, we held meetings with state administration officials and civic authorities, and, as a precaution, decided that wholesale buyers and traders would be allowed inside the mandi only after 6 am, once the trucks are out,” the officer said.
The police used public announcement systems to inform those who were waiting about the revised timings. Traders were peacefully controlled and the small vendors, who are not allowed entry, were dispersed. There was no violence or law and order escalation reported, the police officer said.
The deputy commissioner of police (east) Jasmeet Singh said that five FIRs were registered against shopkeepers for not wearing masks, flouting mandi guidelines, violating lockdown and for unauthorised vending.
At least 24 FIRs were registered for violating the lockdown at Ghazipur mandi in April.
A senior district administration official said that as wholesale markets are vulnerable to the spread of coronavirus disease, arrangements were made to ensure social distancing.
“Since the order was released Thursday evening, many vendors and buyers were not aware of the new guidelines, which led to confusion and crowding. We have now disseminated the information about the new system at the mandi and are closely monitoring the situation. The mandi is expected to function smoothly from tomorrow (Saturday),” the official said.
As many as 16 traders at Delhi’s Azadpur Mandi tested Covid-19 positive and 43 contacts were quarantined till Friday evening. Test results of over 100 persons associated with the market are awaited, while over 500 have been screened. Around 25 shops in the wholesale market have been sealed. On Thursday, the number of Covid-19 positive cases was 15.
Adil Ahmad Khan, chairman Azadpur APMC, said that the wholesale market was functioning normally and it received 6,000 tonnes of vegetable and fruits on Friday. Normally, nearly 8,000 tonnes of fruits and vegetables are supplied to the market every day.
“There is no need to panic. Two medical teams have been deployed in the wholesale market to conduct health checks of traders and shoppers. These teams are stationed at two mohalla clinics on the mandi premises,” Khan said.
The Okhla wholesale market was shut on Friday and Saturday for sanitisation, said officials. No positive case has been reported at the market. From Sunday, it will be open all hours of the day, throughout the week