The resumption of Metro rail services in Delhi on Monday after a five-month hiatus has raised hopes among the traders in the national capital of an increase in customer footfall which would help them recover from the losses suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Delhi Metro restarted services with the curtailed operation of the Yellow Line. The trains will operate in batches of four-hour each from 7-11 am and 4-8 pm, officials said.
Welcoming the resumption of the rapid transit system in the national capital, traders said its effect on commercial activities will be visible once the service becomes normal from September 12.
The Home Ministry had recently issued guidelines allowing metro services in the country to resume operations in a graded manner, following which the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) decided to restart services in three stages from September 7-12.
"I believe Metro trains will help revive Delhi's economy by spurring commercial activities. Almost all major wholesale and retail markets like Chandni Chowk, Chawadi Bazar, Nehru Place and Khan Market have metro connectivity which means footfall will improve with the resumption of the train service," said Brijesh Goyal, convener of the Chamber of Industry and Trade.
President of New Delhi Traders Association Atul Bhargava said, "Restarting Metro trains was needed even though the pandemic is yet to subside. It will have a confidence-building effect on people. But metro alone cannot revive the economy, and government help is needed for the traders who are broke."
He said a majority of customers in Connaught Place use their own vehicles and only around 25 per cent use public transport like metro trains. Bhargava hoped that footfall will increase with normal operations of the trains.
At the Sarojini Nagar retail market, traders hoped that metro service will end their difficulties by bringing in more customers.
"I hope, Delhi Metro trains as safe and time and money-saving travel option, will increase footfall in the market," said Ashok Randhawa, president of Sarojini Nagar Mini Market Traders Association.
Metro services in the National Capital Region were closed since March 22 due to the pandemic.
The ruling AAP government had been advocating the resumption of Metro train services in the city which is striving to revive its economy hit by the pandemic. Various traders associations in a recent interaction with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had also demanded restarting Metro services.
Praveen Khandelwal, general secretary of Confederation of All India Traders(CAIT) said the government should run an adequate number of feeder buses for traders and customers so that they face no problem in commuting from Metro stations to the markets.
The DMRC has appealed to people to use the rapid transport system only if urgently needed. Various precautionary measures such as strict adherence to using face covers and sanitisers, social distancing, travel through smart cards only, thermal screening have been put in place to ensure safe commuting.
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