Unlike their urban cousins in Pune, the residents of Manchar in Ambegaon taluka of Pune district did not crowd outside grocery shops when the 21-day nationwide lockdown was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. An initiative by the local district authorities and the gram panchyat has seen local shops start home deliveries on telephone orders.
Located 64 km from Pune, Manchar, the taluka headquarters of Ambegaon, is a sprawling village of more than 20,000 residents. When on Monday, the state government announced its plans for a complete lockdown, the challenge before the local administration and the gram panchayat was to keep the supply chains in the area alive.
Jitendra Dudi, sub divisional magistrate of Ambegaon and Junnar, said a joint meeting was held with the gram panchyat and traders in the area.
The local administration had already identified the shops selling foodgrain, milk, eggs and other essential commodities. “Along with the gram panchyat, it was decided that each of these shops would start home delivery. Accordingly, we had published pamphlets with phone number and details of the shops and distributed them across Manchar,” he said.
Datta Janjale, the sarpanch of the village, said 150 home delivery boys were employed with their salaries being paid by shops and local social organisations.
“The idea was simple…if people needed to shop, they would call the shops and place their orders. These delivery boys were armed with masks and trained in the norms of social distance, home deliveries,” he said.
Dudi’s office had issued special passes for such vehicles with the local police being kept in the loop. The deserted roads of Manchar, Dudi said, were proof of the success of the model. “Along with Manchar, we have also implemented this in bigger villages of Narayangaon and Junnar. Soon, this scheme will be rolled out in all the 166 villages in the two talukas,” he said.
Ambegaon and Junnar are major vegetable growing zones with growers dealing with the markets of Mumbai and Pune. In order to help their farmers and local residents, Janjale said they have distributed numbers of farmers who have market ready crops and have also linked them with grocery shops. “So, along with groceries, people can also order vegetables to their home,” said Janjale.
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