Residents of Churchgate and Marine Lines have faced a vegetable crunch ever since the lockdown, being unable to visit the Fort and Grant Road markets as they did before. Now, local corporator Sujata Sanap and her husband Digvijay Sanap have arranged for produce vans to visit these areas, carrying vegetables from Nashik, said Mahendra Hemdev, coordinator of the Marine Drive Residents' Association Group.
He said, "To avoid crowding and prevent the spread of the virus, we have set up a WhatsApp group of about 166 people, through which they are informed when the vans will be arriving in their vicinity. A list of the vegetables available and their prices are provided so that those wishing to make purchases can plan accordingly."
On the days the van visits a particular area, volunteers from every building come together and monitor the situation.
Digvijay Sanap claimed that it was due to the support of residents and the strict implementation of safety measures that this ward remains in the safe zone. "Except for some corona-positive cases reported in the Colaba slum pockets, other areas are still safe, " he explained. The ward has a population of about 63,000 people and is home to several heritage buildings.
To ensure that vegetables are available to all, a rotational system has been devised - if the van visits 70 to 100 buildings in a certain area, the next day it will go to another spot so that there is no panic buying or hoarding. Digvijay said, "In the initial days of the lockdown, fruit and vegetable vendors ramped up prices, taking advantage of the situation. Now, I am sourcing produce from my native place Nashik, buying 2.5 tonnes of vegetables from farmers directly per trip and ensuring they are sold at a reasonable price. The purpose is not to profit but to help people in this critical time," he claimed.