The health department of the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) had sought the closure of the APMC on April 28, which was not accepted by the state government.
Some of the internal roads of the APMC, where infected patients were found, had been sealed. The state government has been trying to keep the supply chain uninterrupted to avoid profiteering and black marketing.
There was growing pressure from local corporators and the mayor of Navi Mumbai for closure of the market. A meeting of all the stakeholders was held on Friday, which was attended by Anoop Kumar, principal secretary (marketing).
“We have decided to screen all the market functionaries of the APMC and test those found to be having symptoms of Covid-19. Traders will bear the cost of their Covid-19 test, while the APMC will bear the cost of Covid-19 test of other market functionaries. The market will be thoroughly sanitised during this period,” a release issued by the APMC said.
Anoop Kumar, principal secretary (marketing), Maharashtra told ET: “We are not deterred by unfounded fear and scare-mongering. We have to take a reasoned decision and cannot afford to spread panic among the residents of Mumbai and the MMR region.”
Since the first Covid-19 patient was found at the APMC in April, the number of vehicles it used to get at its premises has already been reduced by sending the vehicles carrying fruits and vegetables directly to main city and suburbs bypassing the market. The grains market had started working on alternate days by unloading the goods on one day and loading them in smaller vehicles for supplying to the city the next day.
“The closure of the market will be a planned decision leading to no shortages of the daily essentials. The city already has enough stock for one to two months, which has already decreased the demand for grains. We will supply enough grains during the next two days,” said Nilesh Veera, director, APMC, Vashi representing the grain market.
After mounting pressure from NMMC, the APMC had conducted screening of market operators. “We had found 20 positive patients in the screenings carried out by the APMC and in another screening carried out of the traders at the grains market, we had found 8 positive patients,” said Narendra Patil, a labour leader. He said that a review meeting will be held to discuss long-term measures about maintaining the supply chain.