Onion, potato and garlic traders in the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) market in Navi Mumbai have been waiting for rehabilitation ever since the structure was declared dangerous in 2003.
The notice that APMC authorities sent to the traders had asked them to vacate the premises by June 1. The deadline has now been extended by a fortnight.
Traders have said the board should first make arrangements for 250 of them to function and then ask them to leave. “The infrastructure with which we are working is in a pathetic condition. Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation had declared it dilapidated in 2003 and since 2005, we have been demanding rehabilitation for the market, but nothing has been done yet. Every June, as a formality, NMMC sends us a notice saying the structure is dilapidated but nobody has an answer as to where we should go,” said Ashok Walvi, an onion and potato trader and Director of the Maharshtra Rajya Bazar Samiti Mahasangh.
On March 22, APMC authorities sent an eviction notice to the traders. “During recent bridge collapses in Mumbai, government authorities were held responsible. Now the APMC authorities are afraid that if anything untoward happens here, they will be held responsible. Hence, as a formality, they sent an eviction notice. Then we approached court to stay the eviction. The court will decide the matter after June 6 when it reopens. Hence, we requested the authorities to give us an extension, which they did,” Mr. Walvi said.
Of the nearly 250 traders in the market, 234 have received the notice. “Every monsoon, there are incidents of slab collapse in the galas (outlets). It’s becoming difficult to work here but we do not have an option,” said a trader.
The market is spread across 15 acres, and has seven buildings. “The authorities had given an option of shifting to a two-acre plot that belongs to MAFCO market. We are already finding it difficult to work on 15 acres; working from a two-acre plot is impossible,” Mr. Walvi said. The traders have been demanding infrastructure and not just land, to shift the work. With around 300 trucks entering the market, they have asked authorities to allot space accordingly.
“We have extended the date for eviction as per the traders’ request. They have rejected the land at MAFCO market. We asked CIDCO too for land, but they do not have it. At the moment, we do not have any substitute to offer the traders,” said Anil Chavan, APMC Secretary.