How do you travel from Mumbai to Allahabad when there is a lockdown? Buy 25 tonnes of onions, load them onto a truck, and hit the road.
Desperate to reach his ancestral village on the outskirts of Allahabad, Prem Murti Pandey, who works at Mumbai airport, says he did just that.
He spent the first phase of the lockdown in Mumbai, but then it seemed that the restrictions could go on for a while.
“Actually Azad Nagar in Andheri East, where I live is a very congested area and there is a bigger risk there of coronavirus spreading,” he told a news agency.
Buses and trains don’t run and flights are grounded during this lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus.
“I realised that the government had left one way open,” Pandey said, referring to the relaxation on the movement of essential commodities like fruits and vegetables.
His plan also involved watermelons—1,300 kilos of them.
On April 17, Pandey hired a mini-truck for Pimpalgaon near Nashik, about 200 km away. There, he bought the watermelons for Rs 10,000 and sent the vehicle back to Mumbai with the consignment.
He had already struck a deal with a buyer in Mumbai.
Next, he studied the Pimpalgaon market for a good deal in onions.
Pandey said he bought 25,520 kilos of onions at Rs 9.10 per kg, shelling out Rs 2.32 lakh.
He then hired a truck for Rs 77,500 and set off on April 20 with the onions on a 1,200-km journey to Allahabad.
He reached there on April 23 and headed straight to the Mundera wholesale market on the outskirts of the city. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find anyone who would pay cash for the load.
So, he took the truck to his village, Kotwa Mubarkpur, a couple of kilometers away. The onions were unloaded there.
TP Nagar police post in-charge Arvind Kumar Singh said Pandey came to Dhoomanganj police station on Friday and a medical team examined him. For now, he has been asked to quarantine himself at home.
As for the onions, Pandey still hopes to get a good deal.
Right now, the mandi is full of onions from Sagar in Madhya Pradesh. Once the Sagar supply is over, onions from Nashik will find buyers, he said.