Street vendors want curbs on weekly markets lifted, write to L-G
Street vendors in the national capital have demanded that all weekly markets be allowed to open as usual as all other commercial activities have now been permitted by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority(DDMA). This comes a day after the DDMA allowed only two weekly markets to function in each municipal zone under the guidelines of Unlock 5.
Weekly markets in Delhi were among the first set of commercial activities to be shut by the government in mid-March, to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). While a majority of commercial activities have been permitted, restrictions on weekly markets continue.
The National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI) has written to Delhi lieutenant-governor Anil Baijal requesting that all weekly markets be permitted.
Despite repeated attempts, L-G’s office did not respond on the matter.
Street vendors’ associations say the current order will adversely impact the livelihood of lakhs of vendors, as although weekly markets were given permission to operate in August itself, the nod came with several riders and restrictions.
Arbind Singh, national coordinator of NASVI, said, “When gyms, restaurants and other commercial activities have been allowed, why not street vending? Our business is done in open spaces. The government’s decision to restrict the number of weekly markets is adversely impacting the livelihood of lakhs of vendors.”
Singh said as per a conservative estimate, there are over 300 weekly markets in the city. Each municipal zone has about eight to 10 weekly markets daily.
Rajiv Kumar Gupta, president of a weekly market in Madhu Vihar, said, “I have nearly 200 vendors associated with me. We organise markets in Madhu Vihar, Kalyanpuri, and other places. For the past six months, it has been a struggle to make ends meet. When other commercial activities have been allowed, weekly markets too should be allowed. There are usually about seven to nine weekly markets daily in a zone. The government should rethink its order.”
Gupta said due to the pandemic, the size of stalls is smaller now as social distancing has to be maintained in the markets.
Singh said street vendors will stage a protest if weekly markets are continued to be restricted. “They (vendors) were given no financial assistance during the pandemic. They are now not allowed to earn their livelihood. How will they take care of their families?” he said.