The 302-odd Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMCs) in Maharashtra remained shut on Monday in protest against the state government’s decision giving farmers a free hand in selling fruits and vegetables in the open market.
Traders are now demanding a level playing field and say that the government should also free traders from all regulations and taxations applicable within the environs of the market committees and give them a free hand as well.
The state Cabinet last week had accorded in-principle approval to a proposal allowing farmers to either sell their agriculture produce —fruits and vegetables — at the market committees or directly to buyers, like private retailers or malls. The government is expected to issue an ordinance before the monsoon session of the state legislature commences on July 18.
Sanjay Pansare, director, Fruit Market, Vashi APMC of Navi Mumbai, warned that if the government does not take a sympathetic view of the demands of traders, the markets will remain shut indefinitely.
Traders claim that this is a furtive move on the part of the government to make way for retail chains. Pansare pointed out that if trade is being freed for farmers, it should also be made applicable to traders.