Paramjit Singh Pamma, Vice Chairman of the Federation of Sadar Bazar Traders Associations, said the odd-even arrangement for markets on weekdays coupled with weekend curfew has limited their number of business days to as low as two per week. Pamma said that with 8-10 business days a month, it will be difficult for them to manage shop rent, workers’ salaries, and other expenses. “We request the government to allow the opening of shops on all weekdays. They can reduce our timing to 6 pm instead of 8 pm. This odd-even rule should be lifted as we are unable to function and recover losses of previous lockdowns. Our expenses have now surpassed our income,” Pamma told PTI. He added that traders in the market will keep protesting until the odd-even arrangement is lifted.
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Pamma told PTI that her family’s costs have now outstripped her income. Traders on the market would continue to demonstrate until the odd-even arrangement is removed, he added. After cases of Covid and its Omicron variation began to rise, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority, or DDMA, declared an odd-even market arrangement in December of last year. Traders at Sadar Bazar Market staged a protest on Tuesday against the DDMA’s odd-even shop opening schedule, which was implemented in response to an increase in Covid cases in the city. They donned black armbands and held signs that read, “No odd-even” and “Delhi traders against odd-even.” Traders have urged that the odd-even system be abolished.
The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) had in December last year announced an odd-even arrangement for markets after cases of Covid and its Omicron variant had started increasing. On January 4 this year, the DDMA imposed a weekend curfew in the city. However, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain had last week said that the city might see some relaxation once daily cases go below 15,000. COVID-19 cases in Delhi have been reducing for the last four-five days. According to data shared by the state health department, Delhi reported 11,684 fresh COVID-19 cases and 38 more deaths due to the viral disease on Tuesday, while the positivity rate stood at 22.47 percent.
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Pamma further said that these restrictions have no meaning when everything else is open. “Metro and buses are operating at full capacity and also there is no crackdown on street vendors which leads to crowding then there is no point in troubling shopkeepers. These moves are to kill business,” Pamma lamented. Kamla Market Traders Association, President, Nitin Gupta also echoed similar concerns and said that shopkeepers are following all Covid protocols but still they are being “punished”. “Crowd in markets is due to illegal vendors who also often violate Covid guidelines but there is no crackdown against them. If an odd number shop is closed then street vendors open their makeshift kiosk in front of that closed shop and they do the same when an even number shop is shut. So the entire exercise is not serving any purpose,” Gupta said.