NEW DELHI: Deep resentment seems to be brewing among traders in the city after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kerjiwal on Friday announced that only construction activities and factories would be allowed to reopen from Monday as part of unlocking the national capital.
The decision to keep markets closed during the unlock process has disappointed the traders, said secretary general of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), Praveen Khandelwal. “Preventing the spread of coronavirus is not just the priority of the government, it is also the responsibility of traders and people of Delhi. When the positivity rate is about 1.5 per cent, the markets should have been allowed to reopen, maybe in a phased manner,” he said. Khandelwal said he was not convinced by the reason cited by the CM for reopening only construction activities and factories.
Kejriwal had said that to provide livelihood to migrant workers, reopening of factories and construction activities was needed. “More than 15 lakh small and big traders of Delhi are providing employment to around 35 lakh employees who are largely migrant people and for their livelihood, the shops should also open,” said Khandelwal. Vijay Kumar, president of the South Extension Part I Traders Association, said the government’s claim that it decided to keep the markets closed after getting unanimous support is incorrect and misleading. “The government is blaming Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal.
They are saying that according to the sources, the L-G was not in favour of reopening the markets. Who are these sources? It is totally uncalled for. Meeting of the association was held and a feedback was given. At least, retail and wholesale shops should be permitted. There is strong resentment among trader associations. We will hold a press conference on the issue on Saturday,” said Kumar. The New Delhi Traders Association, a union of shopkeepers in Connaught Place, was also in favour of opening the markets with strict Covid protocol.
“Now, since our business is affected, we demand the government to waive off house tax and electricity fixed charges and sanction other relief so that we can pay wages and manage expenses. Before the markets are reopened, a proper management policy for ‘super spreader illegal hawkers’ should be made,” said a trader in the colonial-era market.