‘Better than nothing’: Delhi traders unhappy with odd-even formula to open markets

The Delhi government has said shopping malls and markets will open from 10 AM to 8 PM Monday onwards as unlocking begins.

Traders in the city Saturday expressed apprehensions and disappointment over the Delhi government’s decision to open markets on an odd-even basis from Monday, but said it was “better than nothing”.

The Delhi government has said shopping malls and markets will open from 10 AM to 8 PM Monday onwards as unlocking begins.

But traders said the odd-even format was not workable and that there were many issues.

“At least shops have been allowed to open but traders in Delhi were not much in favour of odd-even system. It does not conform with the existing trade structure of Delhi because here traders are dependent on each other for procurement of goods. So if the traders who are supplying goods are to open on odd days, and those receiving good are open on even days, how will it work?” said Praveen Khandelwal, General Secretary of the Confederation of All India Traders.

“Moreover, markets, in Old Delhi particularly, are so congested and interlinked with each other that the odd-even formula will not lead to smooth commencement of business. But since this is the order, we have no other option but to follow it,” he said.

Khandelwal said they had demanded that staggered timings in opening of shops be implemented instead of an odd-even formula.

National Delhi Traders’ Association (NDTA) President Atul Bhargava also said that while they “appreciate that markets are finally being opened”, they “don’t appreciate the odd even scheme”.

“This could have been done in heavily congested areas like Old Delhi, but in places like Khan Market, Connaught Place this will affect business. It takes 15-20 days for the customers’ confidence to build. There should have been two sets of rules – one for the wholesale areas where shops are stuck together and there’s congestion, and another for places like Khan Market and CP where anyway everything is open and at a distance. What will happen is all the checking will happen in these areas, whereas Old Delhi shops will be allowed to run as it is because nobody goes there for inspection,” he said.

“We had said that wholesale markets can open from 10 AM to 4 PM and we (retail) could have opened from 12 PM to 8 PM. This staggered timing would have been more useful,” he said. Bhargava also said hawkers were “super spreaders” and a decision should have been taken on them as well.

Sanjay Bhargava, President of the Chandni Chowk Sarv Vyapar Mandal, said, “This is not a good move but something is better than nothing. As the situation is, not many customers will come initially. We hope this is just for one week because it’s not workable in the long term. Business will be hit because when someone comes to the market, they don’t usually come for one shop; they go to multiple shops.”

“We had asked that shops more than 10 metres of right-of-way (ROW), should open daily and those with less than 10 metres should be open on alternate days. Alternatively, I had also suggested that shops can remain open for three days continuously and then close for the next four days, so if anyone one develops Covid symptoms during that time, they can quarantine. These would have been better solutions,” he said.

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