“Same to same lockdown jaisa” (exactly like the Covid-lockdown), says Sunil Kumar, 29, as he thinks about the temporary closure of his humble artificial jewellery business that he runs on a footpath in Janpath. He has also calculated his losses — around ₹6,000 over the next few G20 Summit days till Sunday. Kumar says he earns up to ₹1,500 a day.
Some savings, and borrowing a few hundred rupees will help him get through the days. NDMC ordered hawkers like Kumar to shut shop from Thursday itself, as restrictions come into full force in its area from Friday morning till Sunday night, when the Summit ends.
“There are hardly any customers today itself and NDMC officials have asked us to shut our shops from Thursday,” says Kumar. For many daily wage earners, even three days of no work, is enough to plunge them into a fresh cycle of debt. Around 500 metres from Kumar’s shop, auto driver Ram Kumar Mahato, 30, says that he will not pay the vehicle rent on those days, as he will hardly get any rides. A resident of Minto Road, he added that he will have to borrow ration from shopkeepers and pay them back in instalments over the next month from his average daily earning of ₹1,000 a day. More than half of it is spent on fuel and auto rent, he says.
While there are restrictions on movement in New Delhi district, where heads of State, dignitaries, high-level officials will ply for G20 meetings and events, the authorities have provided alternative routes to commuters, even as they have maintained that the regulations will not paralyse the city’s daily functioning and people’s lives. Markets, commercial establishments and food delivery services are shut, but essential services, such as delivery of medicines, will be available in the district, they have has said.
“We do not have savings because we earn just enough to sustain ourselves for a day and we do not get regular salary…” says Mahato.
An unhappy Raju, 62, a cobbler on Connaught Place, opined that the public should not face losses due to the Summit.
App-based workers expect longer routes, less business
The sentiments are echoed through the NDMC area. Gig workers too worry about the routes they will take to deliver services across the NDMC area. App-based delivery workers say they have been given the option of changing their zone and operating from different areas over the next three days. However, some are wary to do so, as the process to change their location back may be time-consuming.
Parvesh Kumar, 29, a food delivery executive who lives in north Delhi’s Model Town, and takes orders in and around Chawri Bazaar, Paharganj, and as far as Rohini and Nand Nagri, says his routes are likely to be longer for deliveries around the NDMC area.
At a spot in the relatively quieter Connaught Place, a group of delivery executives discuss the pros and cons of operating from another area, when they are well-versed with their existing routes, as they wait for orders on a lean Thursday.
Till 2pm, Khim Khadk, 37, had not received a single order — a prelude to what he says what his next few days will Monday look would look like. He earns ₹1000 daily but after commission, and fuel costs, he is left with around ₹300 a day.
However, app-based platforms say they do not expect operations to be severely impacted. In fact, a few say they expect a surge in online orders, as people sit back at homes for the weekend, bolstered by the festivals and the Summit.
A Zomato spokesperson said, “We will be fully operational for our customers in Gurgaon, Noida, Faridabad and Ghaziabad throughout the G20 Summit. We will also be operational in all of Delhi, except only for the small part of NDMC area where the G20 summit is being hosted.”
A spokesperson of Zepto said, “To ensure continuity, rider safety, and seamless delivery, we have blocked the restricted routes in our navigation systems and relocated some of our riders from high-impact zones to other stores. Additionally, control towers have been set up to support riders with on-ground concerns, if any.”
A spokesperson of Swiggy said that they will be serving customers across Delhi, barring areas where movement is restricted as per the directives. The spokesperson added, “We also want to ensure there is minimum impact on the earnings of our delivery partners and have shifted them to take on deliveries in the non- restricted zones.”
Cab aggregators say that while drivers would have to take longer routes, their work is not expected to be severely impacted. But Ram Balak, an auto driver for a cab aggregator, who lives in East of Kailash and operates in all of central and south Delhi, is till dubious. “Some roads will be blocked… and there will be fewer people on the streets, so we do not know if we will be able to get any work.”