MUMBAI: Vegetables, grocery items and packaged goods continue to remain in short supply across the city, forcing many shops to roll down shutters for a few days or operate short hours.
The state insists supplies are arriving in the wholesale market at APMC Vashi. Yet retail markets remain bereft. Consumers liken the situation to blood being pumped to the heart but not to the veins where it is needed.
Principal Secretary Anoop Kumar, who is overseeing APMC, said that supply lines of vegetables and fruit were running smoothly statewide. On Friday, APMC received 557 trucks of fruits and vegetables of which 194 went to the city. However, officials accept that individual localities may face shortage as the distribution network within Mumbai has been disrupted after key vegetable markets like Dadar were closed down by the BMC.
It is noteworthy that the state government has allowed essential services to run for the maximum time. In fact groceries were permitted to ply their trade 24/7.
Provision stores across Bandra, Sion, Worli, Andheri, Malad, Mulund and Thane are unable to replenish basic items like rice, dal, flour, noodles, biscuits, let alone cleaning fluid and disinfectants.
King’s Circle resident Nikhil Desai said that stores in Matunga and Dadar TT had shut down fearing threat of infection. “The smallest grocery operates only one day a week, that too by prior notice,” he said.
In Worli Koliwada which has reported over a dozen coronavirus positive cases, very few shops are open. “Once they run dry, we will be stranded. No one is willing to enter the locality as it is sealed. And we are not allowed to go outside,” said Nitesh Patil of the Worli Koliwada Nakhwa Matsya Vyavsay Sahakari Society.
Two stores in Pali Market, Bandra, closed as shelves emptied out. The supply chain has virtually snapped with shopkeepers complaining that they are forced to drive to distant locations to pick up consignments since there is no one to deliver goods. These shopkeepers are hiring small tempos to fetch goods. They also complain of police personnel seeking bribes to let them travel.
At Evershine Nagar, Malad (West) too, one grocery store shut due to lack of supplies. The owner of another shop Shivam Stores fears he will have to follow suit. “Tempos have stopped coming from Vashi. Loaders are scarce too. I will run out of staples like dal, rice and flour soon. Every morning at 6.00am I leave to fetch other items from stockists nearby. Arranging my own transport to Vashi will be not be affordable,” Shivam K said.
In Sion’s Pratiksha Nagar, several chemist shops are shut while milk booths, groceries, chicken shops and vegetable markets operate only till noon. This puts to inconvenience the judges colony, press enclave and police quarters. Some shopkeepers said police was not allowing them to ply their trade, forcing them to wind up by noon. A team of police personnel is camping near the Sundar Vihar hotel round-the-clock. On Thursday, police team was seen making announcements from a car asking people to go home.
However, Veeresh Parabhu, additional police commissioner, denied the crackdown. He said, “There is no order to shut essential services. Shop owners are working short hours because they don’t have manpower.”
Some shops in Mulund function till 2.00pm. Hardik Gori of Siddhivinayak Provisions on J Nehru Road in Mulund said, “All of us shop owners have decided to work limited hours as supplies are erratic. Also we are at risk with several customers arriving throughout the day.”
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