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Online business will finish us if markets don’t open, say traders in Delhi

With Delhi set to partially unlock from Monday, traders across the city have demanded that they should be allowed to open their shops

Written by Abhinav Rajput | New Delhi |
Updated: May 30, 2021 9:57:29 pm
New Delhi: Khari Baoli market during the COVID-induced lockdown, in New Delhi, Monday, May 24, 2021. (PTI)

As the Delhi government announced a phase-wise reopening of the capital — starting with construction work and factories — from Monday, traders across the city have demanded that they should be allowed to open their shops.

Competition from online shopping websites, having to dip into their savings to pay rent, increased medical expenses, and being forced to cut down the staff size are among reasons listed by traders to allow them resume business.

Ashok Randhawa, president of the Sarojini Nagar Mini Market Traders’ Association, said he and his wife had contracted Covid. “My wife had to be given Remdesivir injection and was on oxygen support for days. We ended up spending over Rs 5 lakh procuring medicines from the black market; this is the story of several households that have been infected and ended up exhausting their savings on treatment. How will we pay our staff if shops are not allowed to operate? We want the government to allow us to open shops so that we earn something,” he said.

This was echoed by traders across markets including at Lajpat Nagar, Connaught Place, South Extension and Sadar Bazar. Paramjeet Singh Pamma, vice-chairperson of the Federation of Sadar Bazar Traders’ Association, said they have to pay electricity bills and rent even when their shops are closed.
“Factories have been allowed to open but from where will they get raw material if wholesale markets, especially those in Old Delhi, are closed? The timings can be limited so that we at least supply our goods,” he said.

Sanjeev Madan, president of the Lajpat Nagar Market Association, added: “The entire supply chain goes for a toss. If someone has taken a loan, he would become defaulter. He will end up stopping payment to vendors and staff, which will affect the business of factories.”
“The online market is giving us a tough time and if we are not allowed to operate, they will further damage us as we are losing on our capital and savings,” he added.

On Saturday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had said the national capital recorded around 900 new Covid cases in the last 24 hours and that if new infections continue to decline, more activities will be allowed to open up in the city. Addressing the demands of traders, he had said: “I can understand their difficulty but they should be patient and not rush. We also want their markets and shops to open up. As and when the situation comes under control, we will open up everything.”

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) on Saturday had suggested that shops be allowed to open in a phased manner while segregating the working time for different verticals of Delhi trade.

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