MUMBAI: After the drought, the deluge. The wholesale market of APMC Vashi witnessed the arrival of more than 1,400 trucks — 800 bearing vegetables — the rest fruit, onion-potato, foodgrain and spices. This shower of blessing was enough to provide supplies to parched localities which could arrange transport.
Prices gained near normalcy with rates dropping to Rs 80-100 per kilo for common garden vegetables. Prabhadevi and Parel residents were delighted to see heaps of new produce flood the stalls. Vaish Vegetables in Matunga and Super Fresh, Lokhandwala, both confirmed that prices were near normal and would normalise completely on Sunday. APMC market which is ordinarily closed will be open for business.
In an exception, Crawford Market dealers could not fetch fresh supplies so vegetable rates remained high at Rs 50 for a quarter kilo. Mumbra, Thane, was dissatisfied as the authorities regulated the timings of the market.
Potato and onion remain expensive, however, selling for Rs 50 per kilo in Ghatkopar, Rs 40 in Andheri Lokhandwala and Rs 40 in Khar. The normal average is Rs 25. Coriander bunches are still selling for Rs 30-40 as against Rs 10.
In a unique initiative, the BMC set up an organised hawking zone of 240 vendors in Ghatkopar East. The brain behind the pilot project NCP corporator Rakhi Jadhav has made sure to place the hawkers 20 ft apart and make them use masks and sanitisers. Bandra corporator Asif Zakaria arranged systematic markings outside Nature’s Basket on Hill Road and vegetable vendors on Pali Mala Road to ensure social distancing.
Shopkeepers in Andheri Lokhandwala and Kalwa, Thane, kept customers at the threshold where they handed supplies.
The hiccups in transportation and the exodus of labour remain a hurdle, though. Prabhadevi residents have not seen a loaf of bread in seven days and are rediscovering indigenous pav like the rest of the city.
LPG delivery remains precarious in Bhandup and Thane with old, ailing and infirm persons carrying heavy cylinders and back. In Bhandup West, Punaram Vishnoi who runs Liberty Gas Agency said, “We have 35-40 deliverymen out of whom merely four or five are available to work. The rest have fled to their villages. There is ample stock of gas cylinders because our supply vehicles arrive regularly. Three or four trucks filled with 350 cylinders each come to Bhandup each day so the consignment is enough to last even five days of non-supply. The only trouble is with despatch but our locality is populated by slum dwellers who are very understanding. They say we will bring our empty cylinders and carry away the refill. They never complain.”
Despite the grain market in Vashi having opened Friday, grocer Praful Shah of Sandeep Store in Pali Market did not receive any supply of dal, rice and wheat. “The mathadi loaders have gone to their villages and should return for the process to normalise,” he said.
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