New Delhi, April 15 (IANS) It was business as usual at the Delhi’s busiest Azadpur Mandi on Wednesday with people roaming around the market area without following the government’s guideline of social distancing even after the implementation of the odd-even scheme three days ago.

While the vegetable and fruit traders complained of loss of business, many others also complained that police and administration were not allowing the people to enter the Mandi as the passes were issued to very few traders.

Many people jumped inside the market campus from the seven to eight feet high adjoining boundary walls which have sharp metal relins placed on them, risking their lives.

Speaking to IANS, Sanjay, who works as a loader in the market, said, “Please provide us passes or else close the market. We cannot die while sitting at home as we need to work to earn our living.”

He said that as the passes have not been issued to many of the daily labourers in the Mandi, they are being chased by the police and the civil defence officials.

Lamenting at the government’s policy, he said, “Close the Mandi. If you cannot ensure social distancing. It is only the poor who will die due to starvation.”

Another vegetable vendor in the Mandi has similar complaint.

Sonu, who has come from Mooganpur area, pointing towards the eight feet high boundary walls with sharp metal relins, said, “Look how people are forced to enter the market to earn their livelihood. If anyone loses his balance or falls from there then he shall lose his life or get seriously injured.”

“We did not get passes to enter the Mandi. And we have to buy vegetables to sell in retail. So I have to jump from this boundary wall to buy the vegetables,” he said.

The Delhi government on April 12 said that to implement social distancing amid the fear of coronavirus spread, Azadpur Mandi will now have separate timing for vegetables and fruits, with Odd-Even scheme implemented for stalls.

According to Adil Ahmad Khan, chairman of the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC), Azadpur Mandi, the stalls with even numbers will operate on even dates while those with odd numbers will operate on odd dates.

He also said in order to maintain and enforce social distancing in the Azadpur Mandi, vegetables and fruits will be sold at different times.

While vegetables will be sold between 6 and 11 a.m., the timing for fruits will be between 2 and 6 p.m.

The government has also installed full body sanitisation tunnels spraying disinfectant automatically on people at the gates of Azadpur Mandi.

Other Mandis in the city also took preventive steps amid coronavirus fear.

Inside the market, hundreds of trucks were standing to get the vegetables and fruits offloaded.

Speaking to IANS, Baburam, a vegetable vendor at the mandi, said that the sale has fallen since the lockdown was announced.

When asked if the administration has enforced strict norms, he said, “The police is deployed in the Mandi area and they keep on chasing people when they find the crowd near any shop.”

He urged the government to ease some rules for the vegetable vendors so that they can buy the goods from the Mandi.

Another vegetable vendor in the market, Jitendar, who deals in onions, said that the administration is not allowing the local retailers to come inside the market.

He said that the timing announced by the government from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. is not being followed.

He said that the sale is already down and the onions are being sold at Rs 500 for 40 kg. “And we are facing loss in these times,” he said.

“Now only few people are allowed to enter the Mandi and our businesses have been badly affected,” Om Prakash said, who also owns a shop in the Mandi.

Another vegetable vendor Dinesh in the market complained that the odd-even scheme is a failure in the Mandi.

He told IANS that the administration is unable to enforce a complete implementation of the odd-even scheme in the market as number of shops have opened in the blocks which have been announced to remain closed on the rationalizing day.

Meanwhile, the city government officials were seen closing the shops in the A and C blocks, as Wednesday was meant for even numbers.

A city government official, wishing not to be named, said that we are asking the shopkeepers to close their shops and if someone is still opening their shops then a challan was being issued to them for not following the government’s direction.

On Wednesday, the total number of Covid cases in Delhi rose to 1,561 with 30 deaths.

The Delhi government has already sealed over 56 areas in the national capital to stop the spread of Covid-19.

(Anand Singh can be contacted at [email protected])

–IANSA

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