In these times of uncertainty, they deliver the news to people’s homes

Newspaper being delivered to a house in R.T. Nagar in Bengaluru on Thursday   | Photo Credit: Sudhakara Jain

At the crack of dawn, as the city slowly starts to awaken, vendors and delivery boys reach different localities to ensure that newspapers reach people in time. But the lockdown has hit the newspaper distribution chain hard. Multiple vendors across the city told The Hindu that though newspapers are being printed, distribution had reduced by more than half.

Roadside newspaper stalls, general shops that procure papers, libraries, schools and colleges have all been shut, affecting a major chunk of their business and distribution network.

Many apartments and societies have refused to buy newspapers and others are not letting vendors inside for any delivery, affecting a major chunk of the business. “This is due to the rumour that newspapers could be carriers of the novel coronavirus. What they do not understand is that if newspapers can spread the virus, then even milk packets or online food delivery packets are also not safe,” said Nagesh K., a newspaper vendor in Whitefield, the frustration evident in his voice.

According to G. Varadhan, president of Whitefield Newspaper Vendors’ Association, due to the lockdown, the income of vendors will fall by at least 55-60%. “Earlier, during bandhs or other such situations, the circulation of newspapers would always be regular and normal. However, this time, due to the intensity of fear, newspaper circulation has taken a massive beating,” he said.

Vendors also say they were not able to deliver newspapers because of the restrictions. “The police are always sceptical and sometimes ask for passes. We do not have any identity cards also. However, the situation is getting better now,” G.S. Prakash, a newspaper delivery boy in Tin Factory on Old Madras Road, said.

Despite paranoia and restrictions, newspaper vendors and agents say they are trying to deliver newspapers to homes wherever possible. “To quash such rumours, many newspapers clarified that the virus doesn’t transmit through newspapers. Even government and scientific bodies have dismissed it,” Mr. Nagesh said.

Many agents across the city, including those Vidyaranyapuram, K.R. Puram, Whitefield, Mahadevapura, Kengeri, Banashankari stopped the supply of newspapers from March 25, but some resumed distribution from April 1. “Commission is the only profit we get. Since there are no signs of the situation getting better anytime soon, we do not know for how long we will need to suffer,” Mr. Varadhan said.

As the newspaper distribution chain is categorised as essential service, vendors and newspaper agents have been demanding that they be given insurance and short-term financial assistance by the government or the industry.

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Printable version | Jul 26, 2021 6:47:47 PM |

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