New Delhi [India]: Markets across India witnessed heavy footfall on Sunday ahead of Diwali. While the busy markets brought hope for better business this year, the flouting of COVID-19 norms remained a matter of concern.
Images of crowded markets surfaced from the national capital’s Karol Bagh, Sarojini Nagar, Sadar Bazar, and Lajpat Nagar among many. Chennai’s T Nagar market and Indore’s Rajwada market also witnessed a similar crowd. Mumbai’s Crawford Market, Dadar, and Lalbaug were also bustling with shoppers.
Talking to ANI, a shopkeeper in Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar market said, “After 2 years, the market is witnessing such a footfall before Diwali. We’re hoping for good sales this year.”
The jewellery stores in Gujarat, particularly in Surat saw a surge in the number of buyers as along with the festival, people are buying gold for the upcoming wedding season too.
Deepak, a jewellery shop owner in Surat said, “Covid cases are low. Gold prices are low this time as compared to the last two years. People are buying gold as an investment, gifts for Diwali and weddings.”
In Rajasthan, the earthen lamp sellers are hoping for good business this Diwali. “The sale of earthen lamps had gone down after COVID-19 hit the country. However, we’re expecting good sales this year and want people to buy local products,” said a seller.
While the businessmen were happy with the footfall after the two years of loss due to the pandemic, several businessmen and vendors that ANI spoke to said they are doing good business this year but it could never reach the scale of pre-coronavirus days.
“Sales not good so far, very few buyers showing up. Hoping for the business situation to improve like it was during Durga Puja. We still have time,” shopkeeper Hussain at Assam’s Guwahati said.
“We are following all the guidelines and only selling ‘green crackers’. Customers’ footfall is good, hoping this Diwali to be a profitable one,” said Subhash Jain, a Guwahati shopkeeper added.
With the ban on bursting and sale of all kinds of firecrackers by the Calcutta High Court in West Bengal, traders at one of the famous and largest firecracker markets of South 24 Parganas’ Champahati stared at losses this year.
“The livelihood has been further affected as the market was closed last year due to lockdown and this year the High Court banned all types of fireworks for Diwali and Chhath Puja in the state. Most of the families dependent on this industry are facing livelihood difficulties, especially during Diwali,” Sudhanshu Das, a trader and a member of the Champahati Fireworks Union said.
Meanwhile, despite several warnings from the Union Health Ministry to maintain Covid protocols to prevent resurge in cases, humongous crowds were seen in the markets without proper social distancing and masks.
Businessmen blamed the administration for poor management.
A leader of the market association at Delhi’s Sadar Bazar said, “It is natural to have crowds in the markets during festivals but proper arrangement should be made by the administration which has not been done.”
Continuous announcements asking people to keep wearing the masks and to follow social distancing were being made in markets, although none were being followed inside the premises.
According to the ministry, India reported 12,830 new COVID-19 cases, 14,667 recoveries and 446 deaths in the last 24 hours on Sunday as per the Union Health Ministry.
Total recoveries figures reaches 3,36,55,842 with death toll reaching 4,58,186 and total vaccination scores to 1,06,14,40,335.