New Delhi: Daily labourers and migrant workers living in and around Nizamuddin in the national capital complained of overpriced essentials and vegetables as the police beefed up security in the area after it emerged the biggest hotspot for the spread of coronavirus in India. Onion is retailing at Rs 60/kg, tomato at Rs 50/kg, potato at Rs 40/kg, while other seasonal vegetables are selling at not less than Rs 100-120/kg in the Sarai Kale Khan area, less than 5 km from Nizamuddin West.
Even dry ration supplies are being sold at higher price. For instance, rice is being retailed at Rs 850 per 25kg pack now against Rs 770 a week back. Similarly, wheat flour rate has increased to Rs 350 per 5 kg pack now from Rs 270, while masoor dal rate has gone up to Rs 80/kg from Rs 60/kg. There is Rs 1-6 per pack increase in biscuits in this locality.
Sarai Kale Khan houses a large number of migrant workers who work in Ashram, Nizamuddin, Bhogal, Jangpura, Lajpat Nagar and OkhlaMandi. Many work as labourers in local kirana shops, which are exempted from the ongoing lockdown enforced to combat coronavirus. "Everything has become expensive in Sarai Kale Khan after theNizamuddin incident. There is more police security now. With no job and less money, survival has become difficult. On top of it, kirana shops in the area are selling essentials at prices higher than MRP," Sabeen, a migrant worker from Bihar, told PTI.
Amid tightened security, small kirana shops in the locality are not able to replenish their stock from nearly Bhogal market, one of the oldest wholesale markets in Delhi, and therefore selling whatever stock left at a higher rate, she added.
Even hawkers are seeing the trend in the locality and selling vegetables at a much higher rate than other places. Sharing that life under the lockdown has become more stressful, Saleem, who is a private garbage collector in Jangpura but resides in Sarai Kale Khan, said: "I don't have any more money to survive for next few weeks. I borrowed some from friends, but everything has become costlier." Not only migrant workers, even kirana shop owners in Bhogal and Lajpat Nagar areas are facing labour shortage after their labourers were stopped from stepping out of the locality by the police.
A wholesaler of rice, wheat flour and edible oils in the Bhogal market said on condition of anonymity, "Four of our labourers who live in Sarai Kale Khan are not able to come for work after the Nizamuddin incident. They are locked up in the locality with others. There is huge demand for essentials from consumers but no labourers to handle." Many of the kirana shops in Bhogal are delivering essential items directly to consumers living in nearby localities, but the shortage of labourers has added to their problem.
The Delhi Police has tightened the security in Sarai Kale Khan as some of the labourers from here work in shops located around TablighiJamaat's headquarters at Nizamuddin West from where over 2,000 were evacuated this week following a religious congregation that took place last month with thousands of attendees in the middle of a global COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the attendees have tested positive for coronavirus. The event became a key source for the spread of COVID-19 in India as many of the participants, several of them foreigners, travelled to various parts of the country for missionary works.