Valley News Desk

Delhi’s development minister Gopal Rai had called a meeting of officials of all the wholesale markets on Monday to discuss ways to ensure social distancing in these areas.

Traders in Delhi’s crowded wholesale vegetable and fruit markets will have to follow the odd-even rule to maintain social distancing to break the chain of coronavirus infections, minister Gopal Rai has said.

Delhi’s development minister Gopal Rai had called a meeting of officials of all the wholesale markets on Monday to discuss ways to ensure social distancing in these areas as the national capital reported 1205 coronavirus disease cases and 24 deaths.

Rai said traders will sell fruits and vegetables on alternate days under the odd-even scheme, which was the Delhi government’s flagship road rationing scheme to check air pollution by controlling the number of vehicles on the road.

The minister also said vegetables will be sold from 6am to 11am and fruits from 2pm to 6pm in all the wholesale markets in the national capital, news agency PTI reported.

Gopal Rai said while speaking to the agency that the Delhi government has formed four special task forces to ensure effective social distancing in these markets, some of which have densely places sheds.

Several such rearrangements have been worked out at the Azadpur, Keshopur, Najafgarh and Mehrauli markets. While the first two have been subjected to staggered timings, the others have been relocated to more spacious zones.

The Delhi government on Saturday directed the relocation of the Mehrauli vegetable mandi to Mehrauli bus terminal. The wholesale market was shifted to its new location by Sunday morning, where the local police had designated areas for vendors, ensuring a safe distance from one another.

Markings were also made for the general public, to ensure six-foot gaps among them.

The Azadpur mandi, the largest wholesale fruit and vegetable market in the country, has already implemented the odd-even rule and staggered its sale time from Monday.

The decisions came amid reports that social distancing rules were not being followed at the mandi, spread over 80 acres.

Adil Ahmad Khan, the chairperson of the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC), Azadpur, said there are 22 big sheds under which hundreds of traders sell vegetables and a huge number of people visit the market every day.

“Under the odd-even rules, we will allow all the 22 sheds to operate according to their numbers. For instance, on even date, even-numbered sheds such as 0, 2, 4, 6, 8 will be allowed to function,” Khan had said.

Traders, Khan said, can bring only one truck inside the Azadpur mandi. Until now, a trader could take three to four trucks inside the mandi, shrinking the space for others.

Delhi’s deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia tweeted a couple of pictures on Monday morning that showed people at the market standing in queues in designated spots—circles drawn on the ground.

“Social distancing at Azadpur Mandi,” Sisodia tweeted in Hindi.

As the number of Covid-19 cases has been rising in the Capital, the Delhi government has ramped up measures to fight the Covid-19 outbreak, including identifying 43 hotspots where strict containment measures have been put in place.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said his government was focusing on zones designated “red” and “orange” to isolate and control the outbreak.

Kejriwal has said the government will keep adding containment zones wherever new patients of the highly contagious disease are detected.

He has also said that sanitisation and disinfection drives will be scaled up from Monday in the containment zones created across the city and “high-risk” areas ascertained by the health department.

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