Street hawkers, whose businesses were crippled due to Covid and construction work of the Central Vista Avenue, are back with hope that their businesses will limp back to normalcy with the inauguration of the new Kartavya Path.
Rajinder Singh, who has been selling ice creams at India Gate since 1990, said he faced great difficulty in feeding his family in the last couple of years.
"Even after the Covid restrictions were removed, the business was slow and we used to earn a profit of only ₹100 to ₹ 200. During pre-Covid times, the business was quite good and people would come even at midnight," he said.
The last couple of days have somewhat shown us glimpses of the past days as the visitors are increasing, he added.
The hawkers are, however, allowed to sell only up to the barricades installed by the police. "But we have been told that we will be allowed inside like earlier from Monday," Singh said.
His friend, Devi Saran, said his father and uncle have been selling ice cream at India Gate since 1956, and back then, they were the only ice cream sellers there.
The pandemic, however, caused distraught as Saran and his family found it difficult to even make ends meet.
"I hope no one goes through the misery that we went through. Everything was shut and even after economic activities resumed, we had to sometimes forego meals," he said.
Rakesh, a pani puri seller, said he had to shift to other market areas as business at India Gate was close to none.
"The earnings have somewhat increased in the last couple of days but they are nowhere close to the pre-Covid times. Even now, the place becomes deserted after 8 pm - 9 pm," he said.
His neighbour, Laxman, who sells bhel puri, said his earnings had declined to ₹100 a day, but are now up to about ₹200. He hoped the refurbished site brings in more visitors.
Narpat Singh, who has been selling golgappas since 1986 at India Gate, said he had no means to feed his six children in the last 20 months, but hoped for a better future.
"Earlier, I would make a profit of ₹300 to ₹400 but in the last two years, buying food had become difficult," he recalled.
Kartavya Path -- stretching from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate – as part of Central Vista Avenue was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday.