Photos: Sadar Bazar’s crisis of isolation in the times of Covid-19

Sadar Bazar, India’s biggest wholesale market of household items and perhaps the most crowded in Delhi, faces the reopening challenge like no other market in the capital. This is one of the few markets where traders have been able to stop the migration of workers, who are now waiting for shops to reopen. But traders have failed to figure out how to open a market without the risk of contagion.

UPDATED ON MAY 22, 2020 03:02 PM IST 8 Photos
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Push carts lined along a stretch in a deserted Sadar Bazar during lockdown, in New Delhi. In normal times, the market is always jam-packed and social distancing seems an impossible proposition here—and so is the odd-even formula the government has proffered. (Amal KS / HT Photo)

Push carts lined along a stretch in a deserted Sadar Bazar during lockdown, in New Delhi. In normal times, the market is always jam-packed and social distancing seems an impossible proposition here—and so is the odd-even formula the government has proffered. (Amal KS / HT Photo)

UPDATED ON MAY 22, 2020 03:02 PM IST
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The Bara Tooti Chowk in Sadar Bazar wears a deserted look with the market shut even after lockdown relaxations on May 19. Sadar Bazar, India’s largest wholesale market of household goods, has about 40,000 shops; each one has about 3-4 workers/salesmen, as reported by HT. (Vipin Kumar / HT Photo)

The Bara Tooti Chowk in Sadar Bazar wears a deserted look with the market shut even after lockdown relaxations on May 19. Sadar Bazar, India’s largest wholesale market of household goods, has about 40,000 shops; each one has about 3-4 workers/salesmen, as reported by HT. (Vipin Kumar / HT Photo)

UPDATED ON MAY 22, 2020 03:02 PM IST
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Sadar Bazar, which is presently a containment zone, has dozens of submarkets such as Pratap Market, Swadeshi Market, Toys Market and Bartan Market, each dealing in a particular product. In all, there are about 83 traders associations in the market, more than in any other market in the city. (Vipin Kumar / HT Photo)

Sadar Bazar, which is presently a containment zone, has dozens of submarkets such as Pratap Market, Swadeshi Market, Toys Market and Bartan Market, each dealing in a particular product. In all, there are about 83 traders associations in the market, more than in any other market in the city. (Vipin Kumar / HT Photo)

UPDATED ON MAY 22, 2020 03:02 PM IST
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A deserted view of a street during the nationwide lockdown in Sadar Bazar on May 19. “The traders feel opening the market is a monumental risk , and they are reluctant to take it,” Rakesh Yadav, a trader and president of Sadar Bazar Trades Association told HT. “On an average, there are 2. 5 lakh people in the market on any given day,” adds Yadav. (Sanchit Khanna / HT Photo)

A deserted view of a street during the nationwide lockdown in Sadar Bazar on May 19. “The traders feel opening the market is a monumental risk , and they are reluctant to take it,” Rakesh Yadav, a trader and president of Sadar Bazar Trades Association told HT. “On an average, there are 2. 5 lakh people in the market on any given day,” adds Yadav. (Sanchit Khanna / HT Photo)

UPDATED ON MAY 22, 2020 03:02 PM IST
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Until the late 1980s, most traders lived here, with their shops on the ground floor and residence upstairs, but as congestion increased over the years, most shifted out, converting their houses into warehouses and shops. They allowed, rather encouraged, the labourers to sleep in the house-turned-godowns, ensuring that they did not have to worry about lack of labour or break-ins, while workers and labourers got a place to live. (Vipin Kumar / HT Photo)

Until the late 1980s, most traders lived here, with their shops on the ground floor and residence upstairs, but as congestion increased over the years, most shifted out, converting their houses into warehouses and shops. They allowed, rather encouraged, the labourers to sleep in the house-turned-godowns, ensuring that they did not have to worry about lack of labour or break-ins, while workers and labourers got a place to live. (Vipin Kumar / HT Photo)

UPDATED ON MAY 22, 2020 03:02 PM IST
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Shops seen closed along Phoota road near Bara Tooti Chowk in Sadar Bazar on May 19. (Vipin Kumar / HT Photo)

Shops seen closed along Phoota road near Bara Tooti Chowk in Sadar Bazar on May 19. (Vipin Kumar / HT Photo)

UPDATED ON MAY 22, 2020 03:02 PM IST
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Hand pushcarts form a barricade as a woman sweeps the road leading to Mithai Pul in Sadar Bazar. The traders of the market are fearful of Covid-19 because a majority of them are in their late 50s and 60s, running the business with the help of their employees, their children having refused to join, with the poor working conditions in the market. (Sanchit Khanna / HT Photo)

Hand pushcarts form a barricade as a woman sweeps the road leading to Mithai Pul in Sadar Bazar. The traders of the market are fearful of Covid-19 because a majority of them are in their late 50s and 60s, running the business with the help of their employees, their children having refused to join, with the poor working conditions in the market. (Sanchit Khanna / HT Photo)

UPDATED ON MAY 22, 2020 03:02 PM IST
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The bylanes of Katra Neel in Sadar Bazar wear a deserted look on May 19. “I was never short of work since I came to Sadar Bazar 22 years ago. Starting at 10 am, I would work late into the night, earning anything between ₹400 to ₹800 a day. I have waited for 2 months and I think I should wait for some more time before I leave,” Mallu Singh, 40, a labourer told HT. Singh hails from Gonda district in Uttar Pradesh. (Vipin Kumar / HT Photo)

The bylanes of Katra Neel in Sadar Bazar wear a deserted look on May 19. “I was never short of work since I came to Sadar Bazar 22 years ago. Starting at 10 am, I would work late into the night, earning anything between ₹400 to ₹800 a day. I have waited for 2 months and I think I should wait for some more time before I leave,” Mallu Singh, 40, a labourer told HT. Singh hails from Gonda district in Uttar Pradesh. (Vipin Kumar / HT Photo)

UPDATED ON MAY 22, 2020 03:02 PM IST
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