New Delhi: The Azadpur mandi, the largest wholesale fruit and vegetable market in the country, has decided to introduce odd-even rules from Monday to maintain social distancing in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
It has also been decided to stagger timings -- 6am to 11am for sale of vegetables and 2pm to 6pm for sale of fruits -- at the mandi. The decisions were taken following reports that social distancing rules were not being followed at the mandi, which spreads over 80 acres.
Adil Ahmad Khan, chairman 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 on a daily basis.
"Under the odd-even rules, we will allow all the 22 sheds to operate according to their numbers. For instance, on an even date, even-numbered sheds such as 0, 2, 4, 6, 8 will be allowed to function.
"This will help us maintain social distancing in the market in view of the COVID-19 outbreak" Khan said. Odd-even rules may also be implemented at other wholesale markets of the national capital.
Delhi Development Minister Gopal Rai has called a meeting of officials of all the wholesale markets on Monday to discuss ways to ensure social distancing in the mandis.
Khan said the traders have also been told that only one truck per trader will be allowed inside the Azadpur mandi. Until now, a trader would take three-four trucks inside the mandi, shrinking the space for others.
According to Khan, APMC Azadpur has also directed its officials to ensure effective social distancing and mask-wearing at the mandi.
The number of coronavirus cases mounted to 1,069 in the national capital on Saturday, with 166 fresh cases and five deaths reported in a day. Of the total cases, 712 were brought to hospitals through special operations.