May 16, 2021 10:34:44 pm
Traders in the capital have expressed their apprehensions on the extension of lockdown for the fifth consecutive week on Sunday, citing loss of income and no relief or support measures from the Centre or Delhi government.
The lockdown in Delhi has been extended for another week as shortage of vaccine continues to plague the city, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced on Sunday. The ongoing lockdown, which has been extended every week since April 19, will be in place till 5 am on May 24. Metro services will continue to remain suspended.
Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), said the decision to lock down for another week was prudent as cases would rise again if the city is opened up. But he also pointed out that the lockdowns, though necessary, were damaging the economy of the city. “There are about 15 lakh traders in Delhi, who are providing employment to more than 35 lakh people. As per CAIT, Delhi has lost a business of about Rs 30,000 crore in the last 45 days,” he said in a statement.
Khandelwal added that the lockdown needs to be more stringent: “All the borders of Delhi should be equipped with strict checking of every individual or vehicle entering Delhi. Strict vigilance is required at airports, railway stations, and inter-state bus stands. We need these steps to break further the chain of Covid in Delhi.”
There has been no financial assistance for traders by the governments, said Khandelwal. “The outflow of money continues in terms of meeting family and establishment expenses such as salary of employees, electricity bills, water bills, property tax, payment of EMIs, interest on loans, etc. Since traders are the tax collectors for the government, we have an absolute right to demand such financial facilities from the government. It is to be noted that during the lockdown last year, traders were not given a single rupee in any of the packages announced by the government, At a time when traders were trying to recover, the second wave has further thrashed their business. Therefore, a financial package will help them in recovering from the huge damages caused to them,” he said.
Atul Bhargava, president of the New Delhi Traders’ Association of Connaught Place, said traders are under duress and have not been provided any relief. They have made demands for relaxation on various charges and taxes.
“We will support the government on lockdown till it is reasonably compulsory to save lives. Business is getting strangled and we demand immediate support from the government in the form of house tax waiver; electricity fixed charges waiver; bank loan EMIs and interest adjustment; GST and income tax relief and extension of deadlines; subsidy package to traders so we can pay salaries and day-to-day expenses..,” he said in a statement.
Delhi Congress president Anil Kumar also claimed the Delhi government has failed to provide any form of relief to traders, vendors and small businesses in the city.
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