Traders in the heritage wing of New Market are planning to undertake a weekly sanitization drive to revive confidence in the market following the scare that has gripped shoppers and a section of traders after a shopkeeper in tested positive for Covid-19.
Speaking to TOI amidst the Covid gloom and the arrival of monsoon when footfall traditionally declines, traders in the market said there had been hardly any customer since Thursday. News that a dairy trader who operated a store in the E Block had tested positive had led to KMC sealing this block alongside the adjoining E(N) Block. Though the blocks were reopened on Thursday barring a few shops in the dairy range and sanitization drives were carried out by KMC and Kolkata Police on Wednesday and Thursday, customers have been scarce. Fake news on social media claiming three to five cases had been reported in New Market within 10 days of its reopening only added to the panic.
“By the end of the first week of June, around 5% of pre-Covid footfall had revived. But following the Covid case and the misinformation on social media, the footfall has dropped to 2%. A small section of traders is also jittery. We are therefore trying to get involved as an association and not depend on others for the market’s safety and hygiene,” said S S Hogg Market Traders’ Association joint secretary Ashraf Ali.
While the association had earlier provided six thermal scanners to the market superintendent, it now proposes to undertake sanitization of the entire market complex every week. It has held talks with two companies on Thursday and will take quotation from a third one on Saturday before convening a meeting of traders to decide on the issue.
“We discussed the matter at our executive committee meeting on Thursday and there is a concensus that we traders need to take hygiene and safety of the market into our hands. This will not only build customer confidence, it will also drive away the misgivings of a section of traders,” said association secretary Uday Kumar Shaoo.
While 60% of the traders will agree to the additional payout, the association members are trying to reduce charges so that the remaining 40% also join in. “Paying out anything will hurt because there has been virtually no earnings for three months. At the same time, we need to do this to keep the market operational. Apart from the shops, the sanitization will include the corrodidors and toilets. To reduce costs, we are looking at supplying the chemicals and the portable spray machine,” said association president Ashok Gupta.
Source: Times of India