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NEW DELHI : When Covid-19 cases peaked in national capital Delhi this year, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) had put shops under the odd-even rule in order to prevent crowding in a particular area. 

This was part of the DDMA's Graded Response Action Plan (GARP). Recently Delhi has noted a decline in cases, where the national capital today reported a major decline in Covid cases at 9,197, the state health department data showed. 

The state also reported 13,510 recoveries and 34 deaths in the last 24 hours. With this, Delhi's active Covid-19 tally stands at 54,246, while the positivity rate of Delhi has dipped to 13.32%.

DDMA's Covid curb was imposed after visuals of people flocking the Sarojini market, flouting Covid norms in Delhi emerged around last year.

Even though the Covid situation in the national capital is better, traders have been struggling to to meet break-even with the weekend curfew and the odd-even rule.

Some of the traders have been contemplating mortgaging jewelry to meet the rising expenses or even cutting down on meals to save money.

Lalit, a grocery shop owner in Khari Bawli area of Old Delhi, said odd-even has impacted them specially as most of the customers are would not know which days the shop would be open.

"There is no business at all. We are facing 100 per cent losses. Ours is a wholesale market and customers come here to buy in bulk. But they are keeping away due to the odd-even rule," Lalit said.

“They would not know which shop is open on which day. More than the weekend curfew the odd-even rule for opening of shops has been responsible for losses."

Businessmen have urged Delhi LG Anil Baijal to consider removing curbs.

On January 21, the Delhi government had proposed the Delhi LG to withdraw weekend curfew and the odd-even system but the proposal was rejected.

Ashok Randhawa, president of Sarojini Nagar Mini Market Traders' Association, expressed worry over the unsold garments due to lack of customers.

"Curbs should be eased for us. Shopkeepers have bought winter stuff and with no customers now to buy them, where will they keep the stuff till next year? They don't have money to afford rent for a godown."

He said the situation has forced workers at these shops to return to their hometown.

"Most workers at these shops come from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. They stay here on rent but with shops opening on odd-even basis, shopkeepers are forced to pay them for the number of days the shop opens, like say for 10 days.

“Many of them have left for their home since they were unable to make ends meet," Randhawa said.

He said the government should at least allow those markets to open that have received the ‘fully vaccinated’ certificate from the district authorities.

Mohan Kapoor, a shopkeeper in Tilak Nagar market of West Delhi, rued the lack of business and said he has cut down on meals to save some money.

"I have stopped having lunch and eat only a single meal during the day. My wife and I ensure that our child eats three meals but we have cut down on our meals," he said.

Kapoor said just when he had begun to recover from the losses from the two previous lockdowns, the current curbs brought him down.

A shopkeeper, who sells cosmetics items for women in Tilak Nagar, said he might be forced to mortgage his wife’s jewellery to pay bills.

"My shop is on rent. I have to pay EMI for my house I bought before the 2020 lockdown. All my savings were exhausted during the last two lockdowns," he said.

“If the curbs are not eased soon, I might have to mortgage by wife's jewellery to meet the expenses," he added.

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain has been saying that the hospitalisation rate has stagnated in the national capital, indicating that the current wave has reached a plateau.

The number of daily cases and the positivity rate has also shown a decline in the last few days. 

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