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Delhi traders unhappy over odd-even norm, weekend curfew

New Delhi: Traders in the national capital are unhappy over the DDMA’s decision to impose weekend curfew along with odd-even arrangement on weekdays as they said the move will limit their number of business days to as low as two per week.

They argued that with eight to 10 business days a month, it will be difficult for them to manage shop rent, workers’ salaries and other expenses of the trade.

The traders suggested that if weekend curfew was inevitable, then the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) should have at least allowed opening of shops on all days during the week.

The Delhi government on Tuesday had announced a weekend curfew and work from home for its offices as the city had recorded 5,481 fresh COVID-19 cases, the highest number since May 16, with a positivity rate of 8.37 per cent and three fatalities.

Sadar Bazar Market Association president Devraj Baweja said the order is nothing but another move to trouble the traders and shopkeepers across the city.

“Weekend curfew clubbed with the odd-even arrangement for markets will leave only two or three days per week or 10-12 business days a month for shops which is very less,” Baweja said.

“If a shop is open on Tuesday and Thursday, then due to odd-even restrictions and weekend curfew, its next turn will come only on Tuesday in the other week. This is injustice, Baweja told PTI.

He demanded that the DDMA should have at least allowed non-essential goods shops to function all weekdays, if it intended to impose a weekend curfew.

Palika Bazar Shopkeepers Welfare Association chairman Baljeet Singh Kohli said traders are always the first one to face the axe be it lockdown, weekend curfew or the odd-even arrangement.

He said the traders are the worst-affected during the Covid pandemic as their businesses have collapsed and have incurred huge losses.

“We are already at loss and this weekend curfew coupled with odd-even functioning of shops will kill the business. We will get less days to earn but will have to pay full month salary to our staff, full month rent and other expenses. This is becoming just too hard for traders, Kohli lamented.

He said authorities, be it the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) or the Delhi government, do not extend support to traders.

“We have several times appealed to the NDMC to reduce our rent as we are not able to do business due to restrictions time and again but to no avail. We will again write to them to give us some relaxation in rent as our shops will not function on most of the days in the month, Kohli said.

During the weekend curfew that will come into force at 10 pm on Friday and will be in place till 5 am on Monday to tackle a surge in COVID-19 driven by Omicron, all essential services will be allowed in the national capital.

Along with weekend curfew, night curfew and odd-even arrangement for markets will also continue to be in place during weekdays.

Kamla Market Traders Association president Nitin Gupta said when metro trains and buses are plying at full capacity and weekend curfew is also imposed, then why markets are being asked to follow odd-even rules.

“This will further limit the number of our business days in a week. It will be almost like completely shutting the market. Shopkeepers are following all Covid protocols but still we are being punished, Gupta said.

He added that the crowd in markets is due to illegal vendors who also often violate Covid guidelines but the administration has done nothing to stop them.

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