Police and officials close down the vegetable market as a punishment for not following social distancing rules in Thane.
By Surbhi Shah,
Closed market, empty bags and no vegetables on plate—the sight of Thanekars after the Vegetable market in the city was closed down by the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) in the wake of disobeying the social distancing norms by the people.
Bharti Mehta was surprised that there were no vendors in the markets when she visited to buy some vegetables for the week. “My husband and I had gone to buy some vegetables, when we reached the entire market was closed down. We didn’t know anything about this.”
“We asked a cart vendor who was passing by. He said the market has been shifted near Cadbury (Pokhran Road no. 1). We were lucky that we had a scooty and could go,” said Rajesh Mehta, a resident of Thane.
Rajesh Narvekar, Collector and District Magistrate, Thane, had announced that all the vegetable and fruit markets that come in the Mahanagarpalika, Nagarparishad and Nagarpanchayat area will be closed from April 10, midnight to April 14, midnight.
Thane Municipal Commissioner, Vijay Singhal, had announced on Thursday that the markets will be shifted from Jambli Naka (The main vegetable market) to Parsik Retibandar, Pokhran Road no. 1 Highland ground and Ghodbunder Road.
The reason for closure of the market, as mentioned, was disobedience for not following the social distancing norms.
“I didn’t know that there was any kind of tweet or announcement. Even on news channels, there were no such updates. I don’t normally watch local Marathi news. I got to know about the market through WhatsApp messages and my neighbour,” said Chetna, neighbour of the Mehta’s.
Locals say that waking up at 6 AM and going to the market was of no use as the only vegetables left there were cabbage and bottle gourd. “Even after taking the detour, we got nothing but lauki and kobhi. It was then that we realised what a serious turn the lockdown had come to that we didn’t have enough to eat now,” said Bharti.
On March 12, the wholesalers had opened their market as early as 3 AM and by the time of the sunrise; the majority of the vegetables were sold out.
“We don’t have any option but to come early and sell our produce. If we come late and there is a crowd then the police will make us leave…we don’t have another way of living, how will we run our houses if we don’t get money?” said one of the vendors at the market.
“We have started, as a community, to buy all the supplies that we can and distribute it to the elderly who cannot leave their houses. But now how much will we carry? Those who have bikes can manage. What happens to the people who do not have vehicles?” said Jasmin Dhulla, who resides near the Jambli Naka market.
Not just Thane, but Central Mumbai also reported cases of violation of social distancing norms in markets. People in Byculla, Masjid, and other parts of the market were seen roaming the streets. Around four police bikes and two vans were seen on site to enforce the lockdown.
Vashi’s APMC market yard, Mumbai’s largest wholesale market, has been partially shut since April 11, until further notice. Panvel’s APMC market has been given permission to remain open but has been given strict orders of shutdown if the rules are not followed.
Priyanka, a financial analyst, points out that closing the APMCs, even partially and vegetable markets is a huge loss. “I agree that the government and police order to close the markets is essential to contain the spread of the virus. However, not only will the vendors in the retail market but the government through APMCs also face loss.