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Working in the times of pandemic:Government should provide insurance cover to vegetable, fruit vendors, says Ludhiana wholesaler

As vendors also come in contact with a large number of people, government should take responsibility of their health too, says Rakesh Bhatia
Hindustan Times, Ludhiana | By Harvinder Kaur, Ludhiana
UPDATED ON APR 18, 2020 07:00 PM IST

With a big share of public service workers getting covered under a health insurance cover, vendors who are living hand to mouth should also be covered by the government, said Rakesh Bhatia, a fruit wholesaler based in vegetable market, Jalandhar Bypass.

“Similar to the government staff such as health workers and sanitation staff, vegetable and fruit sellers, including wholesalers and vendors, are also playing an important role amid the ongoing lockdown. As vendors come in contact with a large number of people on regular basis, the government should also take responsibility of their health,” he said.

Bhatia, who along with his 71-year-old father Vijay Kumar Bhatia used to operate the wholesale shop, said he has not let his father come to work since the lockdown was imposed due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

The trader also says that as elderly people are at more risk of the virus’ outbreak, his father stays at home, while he visits the vegetable market from 7am to 8am daily. “I largely stay at home as chances of getting infected in the vegetable market are extremely high,” he said.

43-year-old Rakesh Bhatia, who is a resident of Civil Lines, also said that some of the wholesalers have decided not to operate their business for this week. (HT)
43-year-old Rakesh Bhatia, who is a resident of Civil Lines, also said that some of the wholesalers have decided not to operate their business for this week. (HT)

43-year-old Bhatia, who is a resident of Civil Lines, also said that some of the wholesalers have decided not to operate their business for this week. The wholesalers’ move comes after assistant commissioner of police (ACP) Anil Kumar Kohli who was posted in the vegetable market tested positive for coronavirus and passed away on Saturday.

‘MISUSE OF PASSES A CAUSE OF WORRY’

Talking about his business nowadays, Bhatia said they suffered huge losses due to the “misuse’ of ward-wise pass system started by the district administration. “We have suffered huge losses since the lockdown was imposed. I have personally suffered a loss of Rs 4 lakh as not many people are purchasing fruits these days,” he said. The news of the ACP testing positive made us close down our business for sometime as our priority is survival and not money, he said.

Besides running a wholesale business, the Ludhiana resident also runs a non-governmental organisation (NGO) ‘Waheguru Blood Seva’. Earlier this week, they conducted a blood donation camp at Dayanand Medical College and Hospital and collected 62 units of blood. “The camp was held amid all the preventive measures against the infection,” he said.

On being asked what he does during his spare time, the city-based trader said he watches Ramayana and Mahabharata with his family and plays carom with his two children to beat the lockdown blues.

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