Tuesday, January 18, 2022
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Small traders worry about losses due to odd-even rule, weekend curfew

Worried that the imposition of restrictions in Delhi to curb the surge of Covid-19 will impact their livelihood badly, lower-income groups such as daily wage workers and small traders in the national capital are seeking relaxations to tide over the crisis.

The Delhi government on December 27 announced the yellow code of the Graded Response Action Plan, under which only 50% of non-essential shops in the market could stay open and an odd-even formula could be practised.

Shopkeepers started following it, but soon after, in a blow to markets in Janpath, Sarojini Nagar, Connaught Place, Karol Bagh and others, the weekend curfew was imposed owing to the surge.

A case in point could be Abdul, a helper in the Sarojini market, who will now earn only two-three days a week thanks to the opening of shops on alternate side of the road and the curfew on Saturdays and Sundays. He fears he may not be able to send money to his family in Jharkhand.

The business has dipped over the past two years. We have been trying to come out of it, but whenever there is a hope of getting on track, fresh restrictions come into effect,” said Atul Bhargav, president, New Delhi Market Association. “We always expect the government to help us, but not much is done.”

Madram Porwal, a small trader in Janpath market, said, “They asked us to follow the odd-even rule and said that shops can stay open till 7pm only. While our customers dwindled, this weekend curfew has finished us.”

Questioning the “double standards” of the government, Mohd Hayat, president of Janpath market, said, “They are gathering crowds in political rallies and there is no restriction, but we, who are already following strict norms, are asked to do more.”

Traders in the markets believe the government should either impose a weekend curfew or the odd-even condition. The associations are even planning to go to officials with their demands. “With both the conditions, we will be out of our business soon,” said Mohd Hayat.

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