Stores on Ranganathan Street that were not locked and sealed on Monday were forced by a section of the affected traders to pull down their shutters. Men who ferry customers to tailoring units, small-time vendors and those working in restaurants – most of them had to return home doing either very little or no business. Raja, running an ice-cream stall on Ranganathan Street, thought the slightly sunny day would mean good business, especially on a Monday when the weekend rush usually continues. However, after he sold six cones of ice-cream he was asked to stop. “I work from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Only then do I get my daily earnings of a few hundreds,” he said.
Some tailors in the lanes off Ranganathan Street had stopped working in the morning, hoping to resume work in the afternoon. However, the power cut ruined their plan. K. Vimala, a tailor who makes about Rs.400 a day, said the area had an hour-long power cut everyday. “Today, as part of monthly maintenance load-shedding, power supply has been suspended from 11.30 a.m. to 5 p.m. All our sewing machines are electrical and very few shoppers would visit if they know other shops on the road are shut,” she said.
What was worrying many like her, as also the several hundred employees of the stores that were sealed, was the start of a new month, when house rent, electricity bill and other miscellaneous expenses have to be met.S. Vaseegaran, accounting clerk in one of the stores, said: “I just realised that the month ends today. How will we be paid our salaries? What do we tell our families?” he asked.
A youngster, who was watching the proceedings from early morning, said: “We send money to our families in Tirunelveli. I hope our employers give us some money for the month,” said the 19-year-old.
But some of the employers have no intention doing so until their shops are back in operation.
When contacted, S.R. Srinivasan of Rathna Stores, also the son of Ranganathan Street Merchants Association president P.S. Rathnam Nadar, said: “Stores like ours will have to pay several thousand workers. But our bank operations have been affected after our stores were sealed. We can pay only after our shops are reopened,” he said.
Shoppers were disappointed too, with looks of dismay evident on the faces of those who descended from the railway pedestrian bridge only to see shops on Ranganathan Street with shutters down. The Saravanans, who came with two children and baggage to go straight to the railway station after shopping, looked disappointed as they lugged their way searching for shops on Usman Road. Others such as G. Srilatha from Chromepet decided to return immediately after walking half the stretch along Ranganathan Street.
Many shops forced to remain closed had to forego the day's earnings. The employees of an eatery who had prepared rice for 350 customers were also disappointed. Others, however, were thankful that the action was taken after Deepavali.