Business at Nehru Place hit as buyers turn online

There is a high demand for computers and related electronics as firms switch to the work from home routine but traders claim DDMA restrictions on marketplaces have impeded their business
The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) has ordered for shops to open on odd-even basis from January 1 and imposed weekend curfew from January 7. (HT Archive)
The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) has ordered for shops to open on odd-even basis from January 1 and imposed weekend curfew from January 7. (HT Archive)
Updated on Jan 22, 2022 03:12 AM IST
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ByRisha Chitlangia, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Despite a high demand for computers and related items as firms switch to work from home, traders in Nehru Place market, the biggest computer and electronics marketplace in the Capital, claim that restrictions on marketplaces in the Capital have resulted in a decline in business as more people turn to online marketplaces to buy electronic goods.

The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) has ordered for shops to open on odd-even basis from January 1 and imposed weekend curfew from January 7. In its order on January 21, the DDMA said that weekend curfew will continue.

JK Gupta, chairman of Nehru Place Market Welfare Association, said, “During our discussion with district authority, we have requested them to bring the market under ‘essential services’ as people are totally dependent on computers for work. People come from various parts of Delhi and neighbouring cities to buy computers and related items. But due to the present restrictions, the business has been badly hit,” said Gupta.

Anil Taneja, president of the association, said, “There is no relief from the government on taxes, but we are not allowed to do business. There are so many shops on rent that runs into over a lakh per month. How will traders pay rent and continue the work? The government should relax the norms.”

Manoj Makkar, who runs a computer hardware shop in the market, said he has opened his shop for just eight days so far this month. “Shops open just twice-thrice a week ever since the weekend curfew was imposed along with odd-even. The business has declined considerably despite huge demand for computers and related items,” he said.

Referring to the drop in sales, Aman, a store manager of a premium laptop brand, said, “We used to sell 15-18 laptops daily. But now the number has dropped to just 5-6 from this store. We have one more store in Nehru Place and two in Laxmi Nagar. We are somehow managing to meet the demand. The demand is there. But with markets closed and people ordering online, the business has been badly affected.”

Upesh Kumar, another store manager, agreed: “People still prefer to come to the market and buy the product, especially laptops and desktops. Nehru Place is a preferred destination for any computer related item, as customers know that they will get the best prices. But sales have seen a sharp decline.”

With schools closed and work from home becoming the norm in offices, the demand for second-hand computers, especially laptops, has increased, said people associated with the business. “Due the pandemic, many people bought second-hand laptops, available for 8,000- 15,000, depending on the condition. Now, we get a lot of calls for repair and maintenance. But we can do it only on days when we are allowed to open. So we tell the customers to come on the day when we open the shop,” said Iqbal Ahmed, who runs a laptop repair store in the market.

The premium market for computers and mobile phones is also home to many service centres, second hand computers, data recovery centres, which also have been hit.

Kabir Yadav, in-charge of one of the laptop service centres in Nehru Place, said, “The building in which our centre is located has banned the entry of customers. This has made it difficult for us to carry out work. At Nehru Place, we don’t take service requests as of now. We have other centres from where we are carrying out the work.”

AAP chief spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj blamed the Centre for the traders’ plight.“The LG (lieutenant governor) has rejected the proposal (for discontinuing weekend curfew) of the Delhi government despite the fact that Covid cases are reducing at a very fast pace. When all the markets of Gurugram and Noida are open, why should the business community of Delhi be made to suffer by BJP’s Central Government... The LG is a representative of the BJP’s Central government and has deliberately forced Delhi to impose the weekend curfew and odd-even arrangement of shops. The Delhi Disaster Management Authority is chaired by the LG, in which the elected Delhi government can only present a proposal, and the final decision belongs to the LG.”

The Delhi BJP said AAP is trying to mislead people. “...everyone knows that the Delhi’s LG and Chief Minister constitute the DDMA which decides on curbs and relaxation. There is no BJP representation in DDMA hence it will be better if CM Kejriwal calls for DDMA meeting and gets traders relief,” said Delhi BJP Spokesperson Praveen Shankar Kapoor, adding that Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta and leader of opposition in Assembly Ramvir Singh Bidhuri have already urged authorities to withdraw weekend curfew and the odd-even rule in markets.

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