Police personnel check papers of vehicles and passes on the Delhi-UP border (AP Photo)
NEW DELHI: Economic activities may have resumed in the NCR during the much-relaxed lockdown 4.0, but the restrictions on the interstate movement of people have severely impacted the traders and professionals of the national capital and its satellite cities, their associations have said.
In Delhi, several markets are now opening on the odd-even basis, but they are facing problems since interstate public transport, including the Metro, is not functional, making it difficult for traders and professionals to commute.
For those engaged in the essential services, commuting across the border seems a lesser hassle, but people in other sectors are finding it difficult to move between cities.
Those working in Delhi and residing in the satellite cities or vice-a-versa face an uphill task on daily basis as they try to reach their workplaces.
Earlier this week, when the Delhi Transport Corporation started its operations, many of its buses did not hit the road as the drivers residing in neighbouring cities could not report for work due to restrictions.
On Wednesday, a group of workers clashed with the police in Gurgaon after they were stopped from crossing the city borders.
The neighbouring cities have sealed the borders with Delhi to check the spread of coronavirus.
The Gautam Buddh Nagar administration has sealed the Noida-Delhi for movement except for emergencies or essential services and for people having administration-issued passes. Same is the case with adjoining Ghaziabad.
The move is aimed at combating Covid-19 transmission as several of the two districts coronavirus cases could be traced to Delhi.
“People having e-passes or passes issued by the district administration are being allowed to commute as usual. The police check their passes on the borders. No person would be allowed to enter Ghaziabad without valid passes,” Ghaziabad district magistrate Ajay Shankar Pandey told .
A Delhi Police officer at the Noida border said the traffic is increasing by the day and they are only allowing people who have passes. However, those who don’t have passes, but have to go to the office on urgent basis are also being allowed.
In normal days, there is a substantial movement of people between these two cities.
Traders said the decision to restrict movement has hit several shop and showroom owners in Noida who reside in the national capital. They are unable to travel to their stores even though economic activities resumed on Thursday.
Shops in Gautam Buddh Nagar reopened on Thursday following the odd-even formula. Restaurants were allowed home delivery of services while strictly adhering to lockdown rules of social distancing and sanitisation, according to district administration.
In some cases, traders live in Noida or Greater Noida and have their shops in Delhi. They are unable to go there due to the lockdown curbs, said Sushil Kumar Jain, the convenor of the Delhi-NCR unit of Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT).
“Delhi-NCR is an economically bustling region and it was conceptualised as a single region despite three states and multiple satellite towns of Delhi being part of it. Now inter-state travel restrictions between say Noida-Delhi, or Delhi-Ghaziabad, or Delhi-Gurgaon, or Faridabad is defeating that concept,” he said.
There’s a need for Delhi-NCR planners to take into account the situation and find a way to help movement of people and traders, Jain, also the president of Noida’s biggest Sector 18 market traders’ association, said.
Ashok Bhardwaj, who lives in Delhi and works in Gurgaon, said his office has resumed with 50 per cent staff and he was asked to report.
“There is utter confusion. There is no clarity on who is allowed entry. Now the cops are telling me at the border that only essential services people are allowed,” Bharadwaj, who works with an e-commerce company, said.
Rohit Sharma, an architect who wanted to go to Delhi, said he has an e-pass but the queue on the border is often too long and he has to plan at least an hour before his usual time to avoid delays.
“There is no traffic issue. The whole chaos is because of the order. And over the years, Gurgaon and Delhi have become such places that it is impossible to disconnect the two places now with the kind of mobility needed,” Sharma said.