Traders seek total lockdown in Siliguri

Traders seek total lockdown in Siliguri
An apex body of traders’ associations in north Bengal sent a letter to chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday seeking a complete lockdown in Siliguri for at least two weeks in view of rising Covid-19 cases in and around the city.

As of now, a strict lockdown is being enforced in 11 containment zones, which cover around nine of the 47 wards in Siliguri, the biggest trading hub in north Bengal.

“Considering the trend of Covid-19 infections in and around Siliguri, the city immediately needs a complete lockdown for two weeks. So, we have written to the chief minister, seeking an order to the effect. The decision to seek her intervention has been taken on the basis of a video conference that we had with all our constituent associations on July 9,” said Surajit Paul, convener, Eastern ABC Chamber of Commerce & Industries.

The chamber, he said, is the apex body of 121 trade bodies spread across north Bengal, including 19 in Siliguri.

The stricter seven-day lockdown in the 11 containment zones in Siliguri came into effect on July 9.

Siliguri has around 50 retail and wholesale markets, which are the source of essential supplies in entire north Bengal and Sikkim. The daily trade volume at these markets, estimates suggest, is over Rs 200 crore.

The chamber officials said the chances of spread of the novel coronavirus were very high in a densely-populated city like Siliguri. More than 10 lakh people live in Siliguri.

“If the markets remain open, people from across the region turn up, which increases the possibility of spreading of Covid-19. Besides, Siliguri is the major transit point for the entire region,” said another official of the chamber.

In the letter, the chamber officials have mentioned that they are aware that the trade will suffer in Siliguri if the lockdown is enforced across the city. “But still, we want it so that the situation can be controlled,” said Paul.

Till now, over 700 Covid-19 cases and around 25 deaths have been recorded in the city. Even on Monday, around 40 new cases were reported.

Siliguri has two hospitals dedicated to the treatment of Covid-19 patients.

“Ever since the lockdown has been relaxed, there has been a sharp rise in the number of positive cases. The mortality rate has also increased. That is why we want a complete lockdown in the interest of the business community and the common people. In fact, some of our members are of the opinion that if the state does not declare a fresh lockdown across Siliguri, we ourselves should plan a complete shutdown of trade and commerce in the city to get over the situation,” added Paul.

While the chamber has asked for the total lockdown, an association that represents stakeholders of the tourism industry in the region, has reiterated the demand for waiver of transport taxes in view of the current situation.

Samrat Sanyal, the general secretary of the Himalayan Hospitality & Tourism Development Network, has sent a letter to the chief minister, elaborating on the crisis that the transport sector in north Bengal has been facing.

“In many areas of north Bengal, there are transporters and vehicle owners who are solely dependent on tourists. Because of the pandemic, hardly any tourist is turning up in the region and hundreds of vehicles are off the roads. The transporters are finding it tough to bear regular expenses like salaries of drivers and EMIs of their vehicles. With such being the situation, we have urged the chief minister to see that the transport taxes are waived,” said Sanyal.

An apex body of traders’ associations in north Bengal sent a letter to chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday seeking a complete lockdown in Siligur

Read latest post filed under Bengal, Coronavirus, North Bengal

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