Street food vendors and tea stall owners in Sector V are being trained to prevent the spread of the coronavirus while being given masks by the authorities.
Of the 700 street food stalls in Sector V, many have resumed business as several offices in the state’s IT hub have reopened.
Officegoers flock to such stalls that can be found on almost every footpath in Sector V during lunch hours while tea stalls that sell cigarettes and other items are popular with employees during short breaks.
The Nabadiganta Industrial Township Authority (NDITA), which provides the IT hub with civic services, has estimated that apart from the 700 street food stalls, some 300-odd stalls sell tea, cigarettes and other items.
Owners of these stalls and their helps are being trained in batches about things they need to do to prevent the spread of the virus. Hawkers are being asked to ensure they wash the seating areas and tables with soap and water before starting business for the day.
Water tankers are spraying a mixture of sodium hypochlorite solution and water every morning on the bamboo and plastic structures, an NDITA official said.
At the end of the training, stall owners and their helps are being given “Covid-19 kits”, which contain masks, bottles of liquid soaps and leaflets on safe practices in English and Bengali, the NDITA official said.
Sukanta Mukherjee, who works in Sector V, said he was surprised when the owner of his regular tea stall showed him a liquid soap dispenser and a mug of water and asked him to wash his hands before taking his cup of tea.
“Das da (the owner) was wearing a mask… he asked me to wash my hands…. I was taken aback… I was carrying a hand sanitiser and I cleaned my hands with it,” Mukherjee said. “It was only then that he gave me a cup of tea. It felt good to see hawkers following precautions.”
The largest concentration of such stalls in Sector V is in the EP and GP blocks near the RD Boulevard.
The stalls on footpaths lining the streets of Sector V have designated seating areas with benches and plastic chairs.
Stall owners are asked to ensure there’s adequate space between chairs and they or their helps wear masks and hand gloves, Debashis Sen, the chairman of NDITA, said.
“This is largely an unorganised sector that caters to one of the most important needs of officegoers in Sector V. We started holding workshops for stall owners keeping in mind everyone’s safety,” Sen said. “We are ensuring compliance by sending teams to check if distancing rules are being followed.”
He said hawkers have been asked to use disposable plates and cutlery. At least 300 hawkers have been trained in batches of 20 and the response has been satisfactory, he said.
“We had asked the hawkers to form batches and they have done that. Often, we conduct surprise checks… we have found that most are following what we have told them to do,” Sen said.
Devi Rani Ghosh, the owner of a tea and cigarette shop near the Webel crossing, said she made sure to follow distancing rules and keep jars of water and soap for customers.
“We are requesting customers to wash their hands and wear masks. Most are listening to us,” Ghosh said.
Stalls selling cigarettes and tea have been encouraged to set up plastic barriers as part of the distancing protocol, an NDITA official said.
Source: The Telegraph