With Diwali just a fortnight away, a pandemic-hit people desperate to go out and the lockdown stricken businessmen eager to compensate with some brisk sales, Delhi’s Sadar Bazar on Saturday saw madness in motion.
Forget social distancing, the national capital’s wholesale market was clogged with buyers and sellers. With the Delhi government seemingly turning a blind eye, it has become a recipe for disaster in the city which till Friday saw 5000 new Covid-19 cases for 3 consecutive days.
While the Centre may be aggressively campaigning for masking up till the COVID vaccine is here, very few in the vicinity of Sadar Bazar were seen wearing masks. Those who did wear it were found wearing it wrongly, with someone’s mask dangling from the ears or covering just the chin.
Not just buyers who queued up at shops, carts carrying bulk materials found it extremely difficult to make their way through the crowds. It was just like any normal Diwali.
While there were barricades put up by Delhi Police to regulate the crowds which swamp this wholesale market with an estimated 40,000 shops, each year; the sheer number was overwhelming enough for such barricades not to prove a hindrance to Delhiites’ ambition to go shopping and ‘feel normal’.
After the nationwide lockdown in late March owing to the pandemic, the national capital’s business community like anywhere else in the country took a financial hit. Now, with virtually everything open with just mild restrictions and the buyers eager to shed their inhibitions during the festive season, Sadar Bazar has tossed aside all Covid concerns.
While, in view of the festive season, Delhi Police urged all market associations to put some basic rules in place like compulsory wearing of masks, maintaining physical distancing or providing hand sanitizers to each customer, on the ground in Sadar Bazar little or nothing was being followed.
With a fresh spike of 48,268 coronavirus infections and 551 deaths in 24 hours, India’s tally on Saturday rose to 81,37,119. The national capital, too, witnessed a rise in the number of infections with around 5,000 cases being recorded daily for the past three days.
Delhi recorded 5,891 fresh COVID-19 cases on Friday, the highest single-day spike till date, taking the total caseload to over 3.81 lakh with 47 new fatalities pushing the death count in the national capital to 6,470.
But in Sadar Bazar, that seems to be the least of their worries.
Rajendra Sharma, General Secretary, Federation Of Sadar Bazar Traders Association, said: “We want the encroachments to be removed from Sadar Bazar. Many traders have come from outside and settled here (which adds to the crowd). Also vehicular access needs to be curbed till Diwali. We agree that the corona situation is worrying. But efforts have to be made from all sides including the MCD, Traffic, Delhi Police.”