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Markets buzzing with activity after 2 months, but confusion prevails over opening up of shops

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Shut for nearly two months, several markets in the national capital were buzzing with activity on Tuesday, but many shopkeepers complained of less inflow of customers even as confusion over opening up of establishments using the odd-even formula prevailed.

While popular markets like Connaught Place and Khan Market bore a deserted look, traders in markets like Tilak Nagar, Karol Bagh and Sarojini Nagar were seen cleaning their shops.

Connaught Place, which is the commercial hub in central Delhi, saw traders marking circles to ensure that visitors can ensure social distancing.

At Karol Bagh in central Delhi, the Gaffar mobile market started functioning on an odd-even basis. Odd numbered shops remained open and many shopkeepers were busy setting their shop in order.

Hawkers who do repair works and odd jobs like replacing tempered glass on mobiles in the market were not to be seen.

However, a large number of people had gathered in the market to get repair work done. Market association and representatives police kept urging people to ensure social distancing.

Shops selling non-essential items in Main Market Laxmi Nagar in east Delhi opened as well.

From shoes, paint, utensils, jewellery, cloth shops to hardware, chemical and welding shops had raised their shutters in Bhogal market in south Delhi without following the odd-even scheme of opening shops.

Sushil Khatri, president of the Tilak Nagar Main Market Association in west Delhi, said shops had opened but many were clueless about the odd-even rule.

"Since shops have opened after 56 days, many are cleaning them and setting things in order. We have requested the police to allow us to open the shops for today. We are waiting for more guidelines from the Delhi Police on the odd-even formula," he said.

Policemen were seen making announcements, urging shopkeepers not to encroach on roads and to ensure that crowding doesn't take place outside their shops.

Shopkeepers were also gearing up for a new kind of challenge post lockdown by trying to protect themselves from infection.

Harminder Singh, who runs a kitchenware shop in the Tilak Nagar market, said as a precautionary measure, customers will not be allowed inside the shop. He also had a rope tied outside his shop and had kept a sanitiser bottle as a precautionary measure.

"While we are happy that shops can now be opened after 50 days, we have requested all traders to adhere to SOPs (thermal scanning, social distancing and wearing masks at all times) failing which action as contemplated under the DDMA Act is liable to be taken. All shops will be closed at the prescribed timings given in the guidelines so all reach home safely before the 7 pm deadline," Atul Bhargava, president, New Delhi Traders Association said.

In its guidelines issued on Monday, the Delhi government permitted opening of markets on an odd-even basis.

However, on ground there was disappointment as well as confusion over the opening of shops on an odd-even basis.

In a letter to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lt Governor Anil Baijal, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) urged them to reconsider the odd-even formula for shop opening, observing that only 5 lakh shops could open in the city owing to the arrangement.

Khan Market traders said the odd-even rule cannot be effectively implemented in the market and they are figuring out the modalities as some stores opened in the posh market.

"We are in a different market. Our shops are not even numbered in a way that we can implement the odd-even formula. And are the visitors going to visit the stores keeping the shop number and odd and even date in mind? There was absolutely nil business today.

"At least retailmarkets like ours which are set up in a way that social distancing measures can easily be implemented, should be allowed to open completely," Sanjeev Mehra, President, Khan Market Traders Association said.

Pradyumn Jain, president Main Market Association, Laxmi Nagar, said that the shops opened according to odd-even formula.

"We are numbering shops, irrespective of the type of items sold by them, to follow the odd-even rule as directed by the Delhi government," Jain said.

The shopkeepers also complained that customer inflow was minimal.

Pravin Verma of Verma Jewellers at the Laxmi Nagar market, said, "Everybody is concerned about customers. The situation is bad. It was not good earlier as well but coronavirus and lockdown have hit everybody hard and people are buying only essential items these days. Jewellery would be the last item on their mind."

Bhargava said the Connaught Place was almost deserted and very few shops opened as they were not evensure that customers would come or not.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, May 19 2020. 21:38 IST