NEW DELHI: The Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party government announced that the Azadpur wholesale market will operate round-the-clock from Tuesday.
Though the government reasoned that the decision was taken to ensure enough supply of vegetables and fruits in the city, the move could potentially backfire given that Delhi is trying to flatten the coronavirus curve through a lockdown.
Keeping in mind the fragile situation, the administration will restrict entry through coupons to 1,000 people at the mandi at a time only to avoid large crowding at Asia’s largest fruit and vegetable market. "The Azadpur Mandi caters to the people and procures produce from farmers across the country. There was a decline in the supply of fruits and vegetables from the market. To eradicate all such issues, it was decided that the mandi will remain open for 24 hours," Cabinet Minister Gopal Rai said on Monday.
While farm arrivals in the market nearly dropped by 50 per cent post-lockdown, prices of fruits and vegetables had shot up as a result in the city. Farmers were also facing trouble in supplying their farm produce due to the odd-even scheme as well as the restriction of movement.
Recently, Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) of the Azadpur wholesale market had announced implementation of the Odd-Even rule. Social distancing norms were ordered and a full body sanitiser was installed at the entrance gate for disinfecting those arriving at the mandi.
"Vegetables and fruits will be sold from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Every 4 hours, the entry of 1000 people will be allowed through the coupons. From 10 p.m. till 6 a.m, trucks will be allowed to enter and leave the market," Rai asserted.
The government has been making arrangements to ensure hygiene and sanitation in the area, he said. "For this purpose, 600 sanitation workers will be deployed. Monitoring in-charges have been appointed to ensure smooth functioning of the market. I have held meetings with the traders and they were told to maintain social distancing at all costs," the minister added.
Civil defence volunteers roped in
Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (Azadpur) chairman Adil Ahmad Khan said 600 sanitation workers have been engaged for cleanliness. Similarly, 900 civil defence volunteers will ensure social-distancing at the wholesale market. “We have also requested the Delhi Police to deploy two battalion at the Mandi,” he told the media. The rules of one truck per trader has been withdrawn following the demands of the traders, the official said.
No exclusive timings for vegetable, fruit sale
The committee’s recent decision to allow sale of vegetables from 6 am to 11 am and fruits from 2 pm to 6 pm has been revoked. Fruits and vegetables will be now available from morning 6am to 10 pm at night in the wholesale market, the senior mandi official said.