What could be the money pressure that the wholesale traders could be facing at Asia’s largest wholesale market known as APMC Markets? It can be gauged by the fact some of them borrow money at a high interest of Rs 600 per lakh, per day! On an annualised basis, this works out to a whopping Rs 2, 10, 000. Even Kisan Vikas Patra takes seven years for the money to double. What is even shocking is that the interest amounts are collected in cash at the end of the day, while the principal amount is handled via the borrowers’ bank accounts. Thus, the entire racket looks like a ‘white’ business though it is not. The APMC police, who registered a case against one Shankar Nadar under the Maharashtra Money Lenders’ Act, recovered bond papers for amounts running into Rs 5 crore for now. This case came to light when a trader, Rajan, borrowed Rs70 lakh from Nadar and paid a daily interest of Rs 42,000, complained to authorities. Despite Rajan paying up Rs 87 lakh, Nadar demanded Rs 1 crore more from the borrower and kept harassing him for the ‘dues’.
This could well be just a tip of the iceberg called ‘loan sharks’ active at the market complex where wholesalers in vegetables, fruits, spices, grains and sugar conduct deals worth crores of rupees daily.
Here is yet another case of harassment, this time from unscrupulous autorickshaw drivers at Panvel, Kalamboli, Khandeshwar and Taloja, all of which fall under Navi Mumbai but not under the NMMC. This part of the city is administered by CIDCO. In a New Year gift that could well bring a cheer to the commuters, the Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport (NMMT) undertaking has planned to spread its city bus services to Panvel and other areas. NMMT expects to get 50 brand new buses under JNNURM some of which will be pressed into service on new routes. The undertaking has received an overwhelming response from Kamothe from where it introduced bus services.
Towards Smart City: New Year has also brought in some pleasant surprise to traffic police who have a tough time in handling errant motorists now moved e-way. The police have started using Android tabs to issue instant e-challans to traffic violators. The police just have to insert the smart card driving license of registration details into the tab’s slot and they get all details including previous violations, if any, displayed on the screen. And, depending on the offence, the police issue challans on the spot and collect the penalties. In case the motorists do not have cash to pay, they are taken to the nearest police station where they can log into their bank accounts and pay the penalty online. One wonders as to why the police do not take the offenders to the nearest ATM centre and collect the fine.
Dirty City: On the one hand the city is moving e-way while on the other it continues to face garbage problems. The mounds of garbage collected from the streets and main roads (yes, garbage is still being dumped along main roads in the city) spreading a strong stench and increasing the risk of diseases. This is happening as garbage contractors openly flout the Municipal Commissioner’s orders to carry garbage in closed vehicles. Adivashi has witnessed an alarming practice of the workers collecting garbage without any protective gloves. For instance, near Kopar Khairane Gurdwara, one could see the workers scraping bin with spades, collecting the garbage on a plastic sheet and then throwing it into the truck. And, those returning from their morning walk had to encounter the stench.
NMMC may have developed an eco-friendly joggers’ zone at Kopar Khairane, after cleaning up a garbage dump yard, but the entry to the area is terrible. One has to pass though horrible stink as reckless people with little civic sense dump silt and even garbage close to the entrance of the eco-friendly zone. Unbearable stench emanates also from some LCVs that carry chicken are parked here. That’s the Swachh Bharat gift for those who come after a refreshing morning walk/jog!
Talking of Swachh Bharat, one is aghast to find some morning walkers urinating in the open at one end of the zones – be it at Vashi or Kopar Khairane. It is time for local corporators to pay some attention towards cleanliness in these areas and build toilet blocks for men as well as women. It must be pointed out here that the morning walkers/joggers spend close to an hour in these zones and they cannot be expected to control themselves for long, particularly in the morning.
This is the 98th in a series on Navi Mumbai by veteran media professional B N Kumar, a long time resident of Mumbai’s twin city. He can be contacted on: firstname.lastname@example.org
B N Kumar
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