When the functioning of the New Delhi Railway Station is reduced to minimum for 10 days, a huge number of people who feed on this gigantic money-spinner will suffer irrevocable losses.
A small-time vendor like 32-year-old Sashi Bhushan, who sells chains and locks, says he will lose business worth Rs 5,000. There are 35 others like him.
Affiliated to a contractor company, Bhushan and his fellow vendors can’t go to other stations. “The areas are divided. If we sell at, say, Old Delhi, vendors there would beat us up,” he said.
If Rs 5,000 is not big enough, take the scooter parking lot near the Ajmeri Gate side for instance. Mahesh Sharma, the manager of the lot, says the amount payable to the railways over 10 days is approximately Rs 93,000, which they would save.
“But the loss of business is more than the amount saved. Obviously we make more money every day,” he said. Now imagine the combined business of two car parking lots and another scooter parking space.
Take into account the business loss of vendors of fruits, juices, snacks, etc, which will remain closed, and the figure could hit crores in 10 days.
“The loss is huge, but vendors have to take it quietly,” said an official of Pankaj Book Stores, which has a stall at almost every platform in New Delhi.
The vendors are not the only ones. While 300 from the line of 700-odd coolies registered at the station have been transferred to other stations, the remaining 400 are now uncertain about a livelihood.
“The key trains like certain Rajdhanis and Shatabdis along with several long-distance trains have been shifted to other stations. So the 400 porters here would be pretty much jobless,” said Kadu Ram Meena, head of All India Rail Coolie Union at New Delhi.
Officials assure this is unavoidable. “When the station reopens with more capacity, these vendors and service providers will get more business,” said Rajiv Saxena, Northern Railways spokesman.