Private security bouncers at APMC market yard in Navi Mumbai
NAVI MUMBAI: The rising number of Covid-19 cases from within the APMC wholesale market, which includes 12 security guards who have tested positive for the infection, has become an issue of grave concern among activists who are closely watching the developments at this hotspot.
“As per the latest figures of Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation, there are 590 coronavirus cases related to those who operate or work from APMC market and their kin. During such a difficult situation, when 12 of the regular APMC guards have also tested positive for Covid-19, it is strange that the administration has started hiring private security guards, or `bouncers’ at almost double the salary of regular guards. Already, police and home guards are deployed at the APMC, so why waste funds on hiring private security,” said the RTI activist, Anarjit Chauhan.
APMC security officer, Avinash Kakade, said: “Besides our 12 guards who have tested positive for coronavirus, we have also sent 42 regular guards back to the Maharashtra Security Board, because of their absenteeism during the lockdown period. Hence, the administration took the decision to hire private bouncers.”
The latest decision of APMC administration to accept the VRS (voluntary retirement scheme) of 22 officials this week has also drawn flak.
“The lockdown is still not over, while the state chief minister and also deputy CM have already announced to government agencies and departments that expenditures must be properly monitored during this difficult time. Hence, it is strange and surprising why 22 officials were allowed to take VRS, since now gratuity worth crores will have to be paid to them,” commented Chauhan. He also added that foot-press hand sanitizer machines have been purchased at a cost much higher than the commercial rate.
When TOI contacted the APMC secretary, A K Chavan, he replied: “It was an administrative decision to accept their VRS. With regards to other issues, contact the junior officials.”
Meanwhile, APMC at Vashi received 147 vehicles loaded with vegetables from various parts of the state on Wednesday, which was even more than the previous day’s supplies. APMC officials said that Mumbai market has not been affected by the closure of Nashik wholesale market since Pune, Satara, Sangli areas squared up the projected deficit.
Mumbai too directly received 265 vehicles of vegetables from farmer groups to cater to the daily demand.
Traders said that prices of veggies have remained unchanged and there’s no need to panic as supplies have been sufficient as per demand these days. On Tuesday, APMC recorded 123 truckloads of vegetables whereas 299 vehicles of vegetables reached various markets in Mumbai and suburbs directly, bypassing APMC. On Monday, 111 vehicles of vegetables had arrived at APMC while 302 vehicles landed in Mumbai retail markets directly.
According to APMC deputy secretary Krishnakant Pawar, “APMC has not been hit by disruption in vegetable supplies from Nashik areas due to the closure of the wholesale market there. Even more number of trucks arrived from other parts of the state. Prices of kitchen staples too remained stable. MMR will not suffer from supplies of vegetables as it does not only depend on Nashik area. Though APMC restricted the number of vehicles inside the market yard these days to respect lockdown protocol, farmers are sending their produce directly to Mumbai traders.”