NEW DELHI: Panic set in at Gadodia Market, touted as Asia’s largest wholesale spice bazaar, in the Walled City on Friday after two traders tested positive for Covid-19.Merchants hurriedly pulled down shutters in the morning as the news spread, however, the market was reopened after an hour as the traders’ association intervened and a decision was taken to continue with business as usual.
The traders met again in the evening to deliberate over the matter and resolved to keep the market closed for a day on Saturday for sanitisation. “There is hardly any business nowadays. A limited number of shops are open daily as traders are following odd-even arrangements. They are cautious about coronavirus and come to receive pending payments for February and March,” said Vijay Gupta Bunty, president of Gadodia Market Traders Association.
At least six traders of two companies of the market were having symptoms associated with the coronavirus and two of them were later tested positive on Friday. The market, a two-storey heritage building is an enclosed structure comprising 200 shops with an open courtyard in the middle, which shares its wall with historical mosque Fatehpuri.
Gadodia market was named after a wealthy merchant of old Delhi, Seth Lakshmi Narain Gadodia, who built it in the 1930s.Bunty said around 2,500-3,000 people including traders and agents visit Gadodia Market every day and nearly 500 porters reside on its campus hence contact tracing is a difficult task.
“Panicked shop keepers closed their shops immediately after the news, but later common-sense prevailed. We don’t have an option but to learn to live with the coronavirus. There is already a steep decline in business as no buyers are coming from other states. Merchants are incurring huge losses. The market is dependent only on local buyers,” said Praveen Shankar Kapoor, general secretary of Chandni Chowk Nagrik Manch, who is also a trader based in old Delhi.
According to Bunty, the lockdown due to the pandemic has severely affected the spice trade in the national capital, which has been reduced to just 10 per cent of its usual business.