Traders want curbs on market timings

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Representatives of the Capital’s wholesale markets after a meeting on Sunday said they will write to the Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal and CM chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, demanding a series of steps to control the spread of Covid-19 in markets, including limiting market timings, weekend shutdowns of these wholesale outlets, and vaccinations for workers.

Representatives from at least eight wholesale markets across the city, including Azadpur mandi, Ghazipur mandi, Flower Mandi, Chaudhart Chetram mandi, Murga Machhi mandi, Okhla mandi, Narela mandi and Najafgarh mandi discussed these measures, they said, which will ensure these markets do not turn into Covid-19 hot spots.

Stakeholders said the letter is likely to be sent to the L-G and CM on Monday.

“The number of cases is growing fast, so the government needs to ensure that preventive measures are taken for crowd control at wholesale markets. During the meeting, representatives from all the mandis put forth their opinions, and we are going to send these to L-G Anil Baijal and chief minister Arvind Kejriwal,” said Anil Malhotra, member of the Azadpur Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC).

Malhotra said that since the bulk of vegetables are sold between 11pm and 11am, and fruits between 5am and 11am, the wholesale should be open only during these hours, and can stay shut for the rest of the day.

During the lockdown last year, authorities put in place a slew of measures like drone surveillance, passes for entry into markets, designated spots for loading and unloading of stocks, to keep crowds under control.

Meanwhile, retail vegetable and fruit sellers in the city said they were facing problems transporting their stock from the wholesale markets to their shops amid the lockdown.

While they said the demand for fruits and vegetables has increased, barricades and checks were delaying deliveries.

“People remember the problems during the lockdown last year and started panic-buying early on. Another problem is that because so many people are falling ill, we do not have enough workers to meet the demand for home deliveries. Most of the sale is happening through home deliveries these days and being a small-scale supermarket, we do not have the resources for it,” said Madhukar Tripathi, owner of a supermarket in southwest Delhi’s Palam.