Govt urges APMC not to close markets
Wholesale fruit and vegetable traders have decided to shut shop from Wednesday (March 25).Updated: Mar 24, 2020 17:11 IST
The Maharashtra government and traders under the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees (APMC) which run the wholesale vegetables and fruits markets at various locations in the state have been unable to resolve their differences on keeping the markets open as an essential service for the public.
The APMCs on Monday decided to observe a closure from March 25 to March 31 as a precautionary step against Covid-19 in view of the crowds that gather at the markets. The state government, however, has appealed to APMC traders to keep the markets and their establishments running and has promised police protection from the crowds.
Pune APMC traders union president Vilas Bhujbal said the traders held joint meeting on Monday and decided to keep the wholesale market open only till Tuesday, March 24. “Traders will not work from Wednesday, March 25 till March 31,” he said.
Pune divisional commissioner Deepak Mhaisekar said, “We are engaged in talks with the traders. As their main worry is about large crowds at the wholesale market, we are thinking of providing protection and ensuring that safe distances are kept.”
Sunil Pawar, managing director, Maharashtra State Agricultural Marketing Board, the apex body of APMCs, said, “We have appealed to the traders to take all the necessary precautions and keep their essential services running. Even traders and retailers should avoid crowding at markets. We will keep APMCs open across the state to sell commodities that have arrived.” Pune APMC administrator BJ Deshmukh also appealed to traders to keep their shops open as vegetables fall under essential commodities. “The administration is working out a solution to ensure supply of vegetables to major cities. An action plan is being worked out,” he said.
Jaydutta Holkar, director, Lasalgaon APMC, a major trading centre for onions, said, “We have already decided to close the trade from Tuesday itself. Not only at Lasalgaon, but traders at many APMCs in Maharashtra want to close trade.” On Monday, an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 people visited the Pune Market Yard and did panic buying. Bhujbal said vegetable traders and vendors were now worried that they would contract the infection from the crowds visiting the markets. He said a large of the workers and support staff had stopped coming for work out of fear. “Without these helpers it is not possible for us to run the business,” he said.