New Delhi, Nov 18: Labourers and traders at Delhi's fruits and vegetable mandis are bearing a heavy brunt of the demonetisation move, with sales in wholesale markets plunging and daily wage workers struggling to make a living.
At Azadpur Mandi, Asia's largest wholesale market for fruits and vegetable, migrant workers can be seen sitting idle in a huddle, waiting for work or payment to arrive. "We used to make a decent income earlier but now getting even Rs 200 or Rs 300 is getting difficult as no work is available.
"Besides, traders are making payment either in Rs 500 or Rs 1,000 notes or asking us to wait till the end of the week to receive payment," rues Hanuman, a labourer, who hails from Uttar Pradesh. Pintoo, Birender and Namase from Azamgarh have a similar tale to tell, as they wait in vain at the mandi, that otherwise would be teeming with activities.
"You wouldn't be able to stand here, it's so much crowd on regular days, but now it's all deserted. The demonetisation move has broken the back of the mandi," Birender claimed. Traders at Azadpur Mandi said, the sales have slumped post the currency move of the government, with a few alleging that "their (traders) interest were not taken into account while making the decision."
"Sales have gone down by 60 per cent, 'arrtis' (traders) are suffering and labourers are not getting their 'dihadi' (daily wages), the situation is very grim. Lot of the business in big mandis take place, based on credit given out of mutual trust. Now, the two sides are stuck in a mess," said a trader, who did not wish to be identified.
Chief Ministers Arvind Kejriwal and Mamata Banerjee yesterday addressed a huge gathering of labourers and traders at a rally inside the premises of Azadpur Mandi, and set a deadline of three days to the Modi government to roll back the demonetisation decision, warning of "widespread unrest" if the current "chaos" continues.
"I am trying to find work for few days, and one day I go to a bank to withdraw money, standing in long queues. But, if need money to withdraw, so we are suffering both ways. People like us are now managing with whatever savings we had made earlier.
Now, it's all hand-to-month living," 45-year-old Inder from Madhya Pradesh said. Situation at Okhla, Ghazipur and Keshopur Mandis are the same, and besides labourers, truck drivers are also suffering in the wake of the demonetisation move that came into effect on the midnight of November 8.
Banerjee in her speech had mocked Modi, saying, "If there are no vegetables in the market, what would people eat, diamonds or ATMs."