COVID-19 LOCKDOWN

Roadside vendors on brink after two-month lockdown

Thousands of people in Himachal run small vends on roadside to cater needs of tourists

Roadside vendors on brink after two-month lockdown

Photo for representation

Lalit Mohan

Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, May 22

Roadside vendors in Himachal Pradesh are on the brink due to the two-month lockdown. With no income for the past two months and no aid from any quarters, the vendors are finding it difficult to sustain the basic needs of their families.

One such vendor is Kamal Kumar, who used to run vend of ‘golgappas’ in Ranital on the Kangra-Una national highway.

Talking to The Tribune, a worried and upset Kamal said he had not made any income since the lockdown was imposed in the state. “My wife and I used to make and sell ‘golgappas’ on the roadside. It was our only source of income. I have two daughters who study in Class X and Class XI. Our condition has become such that now I have no money to recharge my phone so that my daughters can take online classes from school,” he added.

Kamal said he had just 10-marla land in which his house is located in Ranital. “I do not have any land also on which I can practise agriculture. I do not know what will happen and how I will be able to restart my work,” he added.

Another vendor, Arun Kumar, used to sell snacks on the roadside.

He said: “The government officials are sitting at home and getting their salaries. They do not want the lockdown to open as they are enjoying sitting at home. I, however, have failed to generate any income since the lockdown and my financial reserves are depleted.”

Arun is worried if he could ever start his vend again. He said people would avoid eating from small vends and it would be very difficult for people like him to restart.

There are thousands of people in Himachal who are run small vends on the roadside to cater to the needs of tourists who used to throng Himachal. These people were self-employed even in their own small ways. At present, the Himachal government has not announced any policy to help such people.

Kangra Deputy Commissioner Rakesh Prajapati said he had appraised the government regarding the financial stress of street and roadside vendors.

However, in case the government fails to extend helping hand to these vendors, who were dependent mostly on tourism, they are likely to be pushed into poverty.

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