Police, Administration Should Step Up To Check Crowding: Market Association

Holding that closure of markets is not a solution, trader bodies suggested that authorities should come up with uniform SOPs for all market associations

Police, Administration Should Step Up To Check Crowding: Market Association

Restrictions are being eased in a phased manner, and markets were allowed to open from June 7. (File)

New Delhi:

As the Delhi government ordered the closure of Lajpat Nagar market and Rui Mandi in Sadar Bazar for violation of COVID-19 norms, representatives of various trader bodies claimed that crowding is mainly due to the presence of street vendors and it is up to the administration to prevent it.

Holding that closure of markets is not a solution, they suggested that authorities come up with uniform SOPs for all market associations after holding discussions with traders.

"Traders sit in their shops or work from their godowns, then how are they responsible if there is a crowd in the market, which is mostly caused by unorganised roadside vendors."

"It is not in our power to control them," said Paramjit Singh Pamma, vice-chairman of the Federation of Sadar Bazar Traders' Association.

He alleged that there were not enough police personnel in the area to ensure that COVID-19 norms are followed in the market.

"We have deputed our guards outside shops, but the street vendors don't listen to anyone, they don't wear masks or maintain distance. The police challan shopkeepers, who are sitting inside their stores, instead of the vendors outside," Mr Pamma claimed.

While the Rui Mandi has been closed till Tuesday, the Lajpat Nagar market has been closed "till further orders".

This is not the first time when a market has been shut by the district administration after the second COVID-19 wave. Laxmi Nagar market, Kamla Nagar, Sarojini Nagar and Sadar Bazar were among those shut in recent weeks by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) for violation of COVID-19 norms.

Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM), South East District, Padmakar Ram Tripathi said that an inspection was carried out by the COVID-19- appropriate behaviour enforcement teams at the Lajpat Nagar Central Market and "gross violations" of guidelines were observed.

"It is, hereby, directed that the above market (Lajpat Nagar Central Market) is closed with immediate effect until further orders," the DDMA order said.

It also directed the market association to take all measures to ensure COVID-appropriate behaviour within a day from the order being issued.

Brijesh Goyal, chairman of the Chamber of Trade and Industry, said that the administration was delegating the responsibility to control crowds on traders and market associations, instead of addressing the issue itself.

"This is the job of police, MCD and administration. How can we control the crowd, we don''t have the power to do it in the first place," Mr Goyal said.

He added that various market associations will hold a meeting with the Delhi Disaster Management Authority in a day or two to address the issue.

Praveen Khandelwal, secretary-general of the Confederation of All India Traders, suggested that formal SoPs be prepared for all market associations.

"Closure of markets cannot be a solution. Then we can close the entire city and sit back. We will hold a meeting with DDMA and ask them to prepare a way to control the crowd entering a certain marketplace," Mr Khandelwal said.

He added that a uniform SoP should be formed after consulting with traders.

"All the decisions made so far have been unilateral, without involving traders or hearing their concerns. And we suggest it to DDMA that if COVID-19 protocol violation is found at some market, they should hear the traders'' side before ordering a closure," he said.

Delhi was under lockdown from April 19 to May 30 during the second wave of the Covid pandemic. Restrictions are being eased in a phased manner, and markets were allowed to open from June 7.

The DDMA, on June 30, ordered shutting down of the main Laxmi Nagar market, Mangal Bazar, Gandhi Nagar market - all in east Delhi - and Nangloi market in west Delhi for not following Covid protocols.

The DDMA had on June 20 also issued notices to three prominent markets in Kamla Nagar, Sarojini Nagar and Sadar Bazar after observing violations of norms.

.