The Azadpur mandi will be open 24×7 starting Tuesday, said Development Minister Gopal Rai, describing it as a measure to arrest the rising prices of vegetables and fruits due to lockdown-related restrictions.
In an announcement on Monday, Rai said that since the lockdown was enforced, the Agricultural Produce Market Committee at Azadpur has implemented social distancing norms which, while successful, have led to some problems too.
On April 13, the government introduced a series of measures including staggered timings, coupons and odd-even to ensure social distancing at the city’s mandis, frequented by thousands on a daily basis.
“But this led to two problems — we got reports that fruit and vegetable prices were increasing across the city, and that farmers were under duress as they were unable to sell their produce… To eradicate all such issues, it has been decided that the Azadpur mandi will remain open for 24 hours from Tuesday,” said Rai.
He added that “three systems will be put into place to ensure social distancing”.
First, produce will be sold at the market from 6 am to 10 pm. This window of 16 hours will be divided into four segments of 4 hours each. Only 1,000 people will be allowed in each segment. “Coupons will be given for this,” said Rai.
Secondly, trucks bringing in produce will only be allowed inside the market from 10 pm to 6 am, and social distancing norms will be followed then as well.
Third, to ensure that people are scattered, norms are followed and the area is kept sanitised, 600 safai karamcharis have been hired and 900 civil defence volunteers have been allotted duties.
“Announcements will be made throughout the day. We have put up two cameras at the fruit and vegetable market to monitor activities of the traders,” said the minister.
Any trader who does not follow social distancing norms will have his license revoked, said Rai.
“We have held a meeting with the traders. We will provide the services and the facilities, but social distancing norms have to be maintained,” said Rai.