Dilli Haat Wears A Deserted Look Despite Easing Of Pandemic Curbs

At Dilli Hut, an otherwise popular market in Delhi, stall managers are ruing of no business while footfalls have remained low compared to the

New Delhi: The chairs at Dilli Haat's food stalls representing each state also lies empty.

New Delhi:

Delhi's most popular handicrafts destination, the Dilli Haat remains empty despite the easing of pandemic restrictions in the last few days, with stall managers ruing of no business.

Ijaaz Hussain and Meera, who own and run stalls at the otherwise popular market, say moving work online hasn't really helped.

Mr Hussain, who is in the business of Lucknowi chikan clothing, says, "If we have to pay our tailor Rs 10,000, we could pay only Rs 500. The government is not helping us in any way. We are left to fend for ourselves. We have not been able to sustain moving our business online."

Meera, who owns a toy stall, says, "Just before Covid hit, my husband died. My business is not online. It'd be nice if someone could help us out with this."

During normal times, the Dilli Haat witnesses a footfall of around 10,000 people a day; this number goes up to 20,000 people a day during cultural festivals. But in recent times, barely 200 to 300 entry tickets per day have sold.

This is bad news not only for stall owners, but others too, like 73-year-old Ram, a migrant from eastern Uttar Pradesh's Jaunpur, who has been selling tea for decades outside the market. Difficult times have forced him to sell a cup of tea, which usually costs Rs 10, for Rs 5.

He says: "I sell tea -- worth Rs 10 -- for Rs 5. People ask me to give it for Rs 5. I don't have any work. Majboori mei kar raha hoon...kharcha toh chahiye (I'm doing it out of compulsion. Need daily expenses after all)."

Santosh, who has been sweeping floors at Dilli Haat for the last 24 years, is hopeful things will get better. He says, "I have never seen something like this before. Earlier, this place was very lively. Now it's all dead. I feel the shops and markets reopening is a good decision, at least for the sake of livelihoods."

The chairs at Dilli Haat's food stalls representing each state also lies empty, witnessing very few customers as Delhi begins to unlock.

The Covid-induced lockdown has forced many craftsmen to return to their villages, but as India begins to unlock yet one more time, artisans are now slowly returning to the cities hoping to make some money.

Delhi had last week allowed shops to open throughout the week and markets to open with partial workforce in view of declining infection number in the national capital.