By ARUN PRATAP SINGH
DEHRADUN, 4 May: The Dehradun district administration yesterday issued an Odd-Even plan for opening of shops and other commercial establishments. Though the plan is well intended and aimed at minimising crowding in the markets at a time when the state is under the Corona lockdown, it misses out on certain trades. In addition, some other impracticalities have also crept into the order.
For example, while establishments dealing in agriculture inputs and equipment have rightly been allowed to open every day as it is essential work, there is no mention regarding nurseries. Nurseries, besides selling ornamental plants and seeds for ornamental plants, also sell fruit plants and vegetable seedlings. As a result, several nurseries remained closed even today.
Oddly enough, when offices, public as well as private have been allowed to open every day, and vehicles including four wheelers also permitted to ply on the roads, the automobile workshops have been allowed to open only on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. If a vehicle breaks down on Monday, Wednesday or Friday, where would the vehicle owner go to get it repaired or even get it towed to the workshops which would remain closed on these days! It is rather strange that, in the opinion, of the district administration, automobile repair is not an essential or emergency service.
While, the district administration did understand after an order by the Union Home Ministry that fan repair and electrical good repairs was an essential service at the fag end of lockdown 2.0 and allowed them to open, during the lockdown 3.0 they are being permitted to open only on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, when even liquor is also being allowed to be sold daily.
The case of mobile repair shops is also similar and they have been allowed to open only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The order ignores the fact that access to communication services is an emergency service and mobile repair shops ought to have been allowed to open on all days. Similarly, food packaging is an essential service but is allowed to open only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
The most interesting miss regarding sweet shops. They have been permitted to open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. However, what was ignored by the district administration is the fact that it takes two consecutive days to prepare and sell sweets (at least milk made sweets). If the shops are allowed to open on alternate days, then all unsold sweets could get spoiled as milk made sweets have a short shelf life. In this respect the Halwai Samiti, a body representing sweetmeat sellers, has submitted a memorandum to the district magistrate saying that in their trade, milk made sweets are prepared on one day and sold the next day, and that preparing the sweets is a daylong process. In case they are allowed to open only on alternate days, their product would be spoiled due to short shelf life. They ought to be, therefore, allowed to open every day. They pointed out that they have already suffered huge losses due to the lockdown and assured the administration that they would strictly follow social distancing and other safety norms.
In addition, some other trades are simply missing in the list and this has been pointed out already to the district administration. District Magistrate Dr Ashish Srivastava during an interaction with the media said that the district administration would welcome representations on the trades missing in the odd-even list of commercial activities permitted during the lockdown 3.0 and would consider their inclusion in the updated list to be released next weekend.
It may be recalled that, in the list, shops selling food items and other grocery items, meat shops, agriculture equipment and input shops, dairy and milk product shops, animal feed stores, fruit and vegetable venders, schoolbooks and stationery shops, bakery shops, petrol pumps have been allowed to open every day apart from public and private offices. Other trades were allowed on alternate days including electricity goods and repair shops, mobile shops and repair shops, computer and laptop stores and repair centres, food packaging, tailoring shops, automobile workshops and spares stores, hardware and cement stores, as well as jewellery shops.