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Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMCs) in Maharashtra have been directed by the Maharashtra Marketing Directorate to continue functioning in the current lockdown period to ensure smooth supply of vegetables, fruits and food grains.
Satish Soni, director – marketing – Maharashtra, said all the 305 market committees and 585 sub-market yards are functioning except for their weekly holidays. The APMCs have been directed to strictly adhere to Covid-19 appropriate behaviour, he said. The local authorities are expected to keep a vigil over the functioning of market committees in both urban and rural areas and ensure smooth functioning of these markets, he said.
The local authorities also have the power to decide the number of days, these mandis can function in a week, he said, citing the example of the Pune APMC, which will remain closed on Saturdays and Sundays. Maharashtra has 305 APMCs, 598 submarket yards, with a turnover of Rs 45,681 crore and engages 7000 employees.Reeling under an unprecedented Covid wave, the Maharashtra government has announced severe curfew like restrictions on public movement till April 30.
Last year, several market committees had remained shut due to the fear of coronavirus. This time, however, the authorities have introduced staggered timings in some of the market committees to prevent crowding in markets, he said.
For instance, to control the crowd, the Mumbai APMC located in Vashi, has increased its business hours. Now, instead of midnight , the market will open its shutters at 10 pm.. Earlier, the market used to start at 2 am and continue till 10am, a total of 8 hours of business. Now, vehicles will be allowed to enter the market premises by 10 pm and continue till 10 am, a total of 12 business hours.
The director who inspected arrangements at the Pune APMC said that such staggered timings will help overcrowding in markets. In Pune, the agri-commodities sale will take place between 3 am to 7 am. Small hotel establishments that serve tea and snacks have been shut down to avoid crowding and entry is only given to vehicles carrying market goods. Retailers are not being allowed to enter the markets to curb the crowd, he said.
In Sangli however, traders have decided to keep raisin auctions shut for at least 15 days after some of the market committee officials tested positive. The market committee authorities said that the decision to keep the auctions closed is wrong and they will approach the district collector for a solution.