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Mandi’s across the Country Emerging as COVID-19 Hotspots

Garsha Sai Nitesh
Garsha Sai Nitesh

Tamil Nadu at first saw slow growth in COVID-19 positive cases, this changed in the month May when a sudden rise in cases is linked to capital city Chennai particularly Koyambedu Market. More than 3000 cases are linked to this market over 35 per cent of the cases reported in the state are linked to this single market. Till Tuesday the total cases in the state rise to 12,448 of which 688 are newly recorded cases and Chennai city alone has 7,672 of the total. 

Koyambedu market is one of the largest markets for perishable goods in Asia. The market complex has 3,750 licensed shops selling flowers, fruits, and vegetables. From the very first day of lockdown, the market received a steady number of visitors even after government-imposed restrictions on its working hours. Visitors number kept increasing in number both normal customers and retailers who depend on the market for supply. The market saw rush during Tamil New Year which falls on April 14, which continued due to customers panic buying in the lockdown. 

The state government tried to control the rush to prevent the spread of coronavirus, but social distancing is often overlooked in the market due to its tight space. During morning hours auctions farmers, wholesalers, middlemen, and traders come together who do not follow precautions like masks, emerged as the states' biggest COVID-19 cluster.

Since May 10, wholesale merchants are trading at the newly opened Thirumazhisai market. In this new market, space has been allocated to 200 shops, no individual customers are allowed and working hours are restricted from early morning till 8.30 a.m.

Wholesale markets across the country have emerged as hotspots for COVID-19, mainly due to their functioning during the lockdown as a part of essential services. Delhi’s Azadpur Mandi, Asia’s largest vegetables and fruit market saw 33 Coronavirus positive cases. Ghazipur Mandi, second biggest in Delhi, has reported two COVID-19 cases who are Agriculture Produce Market Committee officials, they travelled to Azadput mandi for inspections this led to complete closure of the Ghazipur market.  

Cases from prominent mandi’s across the country started to rise in May. Gurgaon’s largest market, Khandsa mandi at first reported nine COVID-19 cases on May 5, authorities then tested wholesalers to labourers now the case count stands at 27. Mumbai’s APMC market located in Vashi-Navi recorded more than 350 cases. In Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut, Naveen mandi was shut down by authorities on May 5, after 25 people who sell at the market or visit it caught with the COVID-19 virus. 

Overcrowding, congestion, and lack of seriousness to follow basic preventive measures are the main reasons these markets emerging as COVID-19 hotspots. During the lockdown maintaining enough stock of essential products across the country is one of the biggest challenges faced by authorities. 

Running these markets is important as they generate income for farmers, partial closure can also lead to huge losses for vegetables and fruits farmers across the country. Markets are crucial in running the supply chain of essential products across the country. 

Read More Articles: Government Planning to Bring Central Law to Reduce Farmers’ Dependence on APMC

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