Shortage mars effort to vaccinate Yeshwantpur labourers

Shortage, hesitancy mar efforts to vaccinate Yeshwantpur APMC labourers

The situation has caused concern that crowded markets might trigger a fresh outbreak of Covid-19

Credit: DH Photo

Only 10% of over 5,000 workers in the Yeshwantpur APMC market have received the first vaccine dose, while over 1,000 shifted to the Dasanapura market are yet to receive the first jab.

The situation has caused concern that crowded markets might trigger a fresh outbreak of Covid-19 due to lack of protection and increased exposure.

Traders and officials in Yeshwantpur said vaccine scarcity and hesitancy are major hurdles in protecting the workers.

About 900 wholesale grain merchants operate in the Yeshwantpur APMC where 5,000 clerks and labourers (hamalis) work.

Labourers DH spoke to said they are unaware of vaccination drives conducted in the APMC yard.

C Udayashankar, secretary, Onion and Potato Traders Association, said no vaccination programme had been held at Dasanapura. “We have written to the officials to immediately vaccinate the nearly 1,000 labourers and other workers here,” he said.

Sources said the APMC’s additional director approached the BBMP and district administration seeking vaccine supplies.

“On Monday, about 100 doses were administered after several requests. Ever since, we have been repeatedly told that there are no stocks and we may have to wait for some time,” the source said.

An official said the BBMP is also struggling to overcome vaccine reluctance among labourers. “The clerks and other staff are ready to take the jab, but some of the labourers are trying to avoid it,” he said.

The Regulated Market Workers Union, which is the association of labourers, acknowledged the problem.

Tipplers’ worries 

“Many are afraid that they can’t drink alcohol for some days after the vaccination. There are also rumours that a labourer from Chamrajanagar district died some days after taking the jab. We need officials to convince them about the importance (of vaccination),” union’s treasurer Vasant told DH.

Secretary M Krishna said he does not have an Aadhaar card or a mobile phone. “I don’t know whether I will get the vaccine. I hope the officials won’t insist on it,” he said.

Ramesh Chandra Lahoti, president, Wholesale Foodgrains and Pulses Merchants’ Association, said the market, as a place where lakhs gather, can directly impact people.

“We are facing challenges on multiple fronts. Our business has come down by more than 50% due to the pandemic. The Centre’s new farm law will further affect the procurement and sales at APMCs. More than 20 shop owners have already quit the business. Vaccination is just the first step in saving the APMC and all people dependent on it." 

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