‘Won’t Survive’: Traders, Hotels Dread 2nd Lockdown in Maharashtra

Most traders, transport and hotel associations and bodies are dreading a second lockdown in the state.

2 min read
Image used for representational purpose.

The Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra is facing it’s biggest challenge amid the pandemic. With COVID-19 cases on the rise once again in Mumbai, Pune and other cities and districts of the state, Thackeray has warned and hinted at another lockdown several times over the last few days.

While the Shiv Sena’s allies in the state, the NCP and the Congress, have publicly voiced their disagreement to a second blanket lockdown, strategies are being devised by the state government to find a middle ground.

Taking the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), labour committees and traders’ organisations in the loop along with other relevant organisations, the Maharashtra CMO is in the process of devising strategies for a ‘minimum-impact’ lockdown that will help tackle the latest COVID wave in an efficient manner.

The Quint spoke to a few organisations to gauge their views on a possible lockdown by the state government. Most of them are not in favour of it.

Hotels, Traders’ Associations Dread Another Lockdown

Adarsh Shetty, former chief of hotel establishment body ‘Aahaar’, said that the hotels and restaurants industry will not be able to bear the brunt of another lockdown, with many still grappling with the damages of last year’s lockdown

“There are approximately 2.5 lakh hotels across the state registered with us. During the lockdown, each hotel faced losses of approximately Rs 7.5-8 lakh per month and upto Rs 1 crore per year. Moreover, the lease/rent expenses, electricity and salaries of the employees also need to be paid,” Shetty said, adding that another lockdown will be ‘fatal’ for the industry.

Viren Shah, of the Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association, said: “The lockdown won’t affect the virus, but it would certainly affect the traders. Last year was difficult for traders. Many are still struggling with loans. Things have just started to come back on track and most traders will not be able to survive another lockdown.”

The association has approximately 3.5 lakh small traders registered with it, who earn Rs 5,000-10,000 daily. However, since the lockdown, their incomes have reduced to less than half.

With over 15 lakh rickshaw drivers across Maharashtra and over 30,000 cab drivers in Mumbai alone, Shashank Rao of the Maharashtra Rickshaw-Taxi Association said that the first lockdown hit the public transport industry so hard, that nearly 25 percent of the registered rickshaws have been confiscated by banks due to non payment of loan installments.

“People don’t step outside during a lockdown and our incomes stop. There are at least 2 lakh rickshaws in Mumbai, with each earning approximately Rs 500-1,000 per day. Which means that at least Rs 20 crore is being lost every day in Mumbai alone. If they want to impose a lockdown, they must ensure that at least Rs 10,000 per month are given to the drivers to sustain their families,” Rao said.

The MVA government now walks a tight rope. While the debate over the pros and cons of lockdown continue, the Thackeray government will have to come up with an effective solution – to curb the spread of COVID with minimum loss of resources to the common man.

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