Weekly markets are back in Delhi, but with Covid riders
Weekly markets in the city will reopen per day, per municipal zone – and subject to a long list of conditions concerning location, space, capacity and random Covid-19 tests of vendors and customers – after eight weeks this Monday, according to directions issued by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) to scale down restrictions concerning the ongoing lockdown that was imposed in April in the light of a sharp surge in Covid-19 cases.
“I hope our lives will be back on tracks if the Covid cases continue to decline. It is a massive calamity and we have to tackle it together, and hope the cases do not increase now,” Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Sunday, announcing another round of easing of restrictions as Delhi has reported fewer than 500 cases for nine days and city’s test positivity rate has stayed below the 1% mark for 10 days now.
The announcement came as a major relief for tens of thousands of people who are associated with these markets spread across the city, which specially cater to lower-income and middle-income group people, offering products that range from soaps and utensils to toys and garments.
“Only one authorised weekly market (up to the limit of 50% of the allowed vendors at normal time) per day per zone in all three municipal corporations/ New Delhi Municipal Council/ Delhi Cantonment Board shall be allowed subject to the strict compliance of SOP and all instructions/ guidelines issued by government of India/ government of Delhi from time to time. To contain the spread of Covid-19. Weekly market shall be selected by the zonal deputy commissioner of the municipal body as per prescribed guidelines,” said the DDMA order, a copy of which HT has seen.
It further said that no weekly market will be allowed to function on roadsides. “The weekly markets can be allowed to function at suitable nearby grounds, school grounds, where SOP/ guidelines of DDMA can be strictly implemented. No unauthorised weekly market shall be allowed to function… RT-PCR / Rapid antigen tests of vendors / customers of weekly markets shall be conducted on random basis by the district magistrate concerned regularly.”
Delhi has total 12 municipal zones.
“It has come as a major relief. Thousands of people have been deprived of incomes, of which many have left for their home states. We hope that business recovers soon,” said Sanjay Kumar, a vendor and member of town vending committee in charge of a weekly market in the Yamuna embankment area in east Delhi.
Dhanik Chand, vendor and member of town vending committee in charge of a weekly market in Mandawali locality, said, “Last year, vendors had to wait for months for weekly markets to resume business. We are lucky this time. This will ensure some income in such difficult times.”
Brijesh Goyal, president of chamber of trade and industry, said, “Delhi has around 2,700 weekly markets – big and small ones. Collectively, they employ around 400,000 people in different capacities – vendors, suppliers, porters, etc. Sunday’s announcement is expected to bring them big relief.”
Arbind Singh, national coordinator of the National Association of Street Vendors of India, said, “Allowing weekly markets to finally operate is a welcome move. The government should have allowed them earlier with strict protocols. But better late than never. Weekly market vendors are in extreme distress. Many of them are migrants and they have been struggling for food and ration.”