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As Delhi partially unlocks on Monday, traders demand opening of markets

CAIT secretary general Praveen Khandelwal said that when the Covid positivity rate in the capital is about 1.5 per cent, markets should also have been allowed to open in a phased manner with reduced timings.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: May 29, 2021 3:56:17 pm
A Delhi resident buys winter clothes at a roadside market in New Delhi (Express file photo by Praveen Khanna)

Even as the Delhi government announced a phase-wise reopening of the capital — starting with construction work and factories — from Monday, traders expressed their disappointment over markets not being included.

On May 26, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) had sent a proposal to Lt-Governor Anil Baijal and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, after extensive talks with trade associations of Delhi, urging them to open markets in a phased manner, with mandatory adherence to all Covid safety measures and guidelines in the market.

CAIT secretary general Praveen Khandelwal said that when the Covid positivity rate in the capital is about 1.5 per cent, markets should also have been allowed to open in a phased manner with reduced timings.

In a statement, Khandelwal called the reasoning given by Kejriwal that this reopening policy would give employment to migrant workers “half-baked”, and said markets are also a huge avenue for employment.

He said, “More than 15 lakh small and big traders of Delhi are providing employment to over 35 lakh employees, who are largely migrants. As such, for their livelihood, shops are also eligible to open.”

Khandelwal said timings of shops can be reduced further, but opening of shops and markets is the need of the hour as traders are facing an acute financial crisis.

Atul Bhargava, president of the Connaught Place Traders’ Association, said the South Delhi market associations were also disappointed by the latest guidelines.

He said, “They’re thinking only of the livelihood of migrant labourers at construction sites, but they are not vaccinated and these sites have no SOPs. Supplies are needed from shops. Retail, and then wholesale markets, must be opened. We are ready to operate with restricted timings. We have addressed these issues to the AAP and CAIT leaderships. In South Delhi, people are maintaining all protocol and it is easier to open here.”

“We have suffered majorly for the past year financially. The New Delhi Municipal Council is charging late fees too. The trading community has been left to fend for themselves… there is no governmental support on any level in the form of subsidies, loans and tax deduction,” he added.

Earlier this month, traders had also demanded that they receive financial support from the Centre and state government in the form of tax cuts in order to tide through a financially crippling year.

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