Mumbai: Over 15,000
retailers, wholesalers and hawkers congregated at the Azad Maidan in South Mumbai
on10 October, in support of anti-retail protests organised by the Vyapaar Rozgaar
Suraksha Kriti Samiti.
to Mohan Gurnani, president, Federation of Associations of Maharashtra, five crore
traders across the country risk losing their employment if the government does
not heed the protester''s pleas.
said that the protesters would allow the government time till 26 January to suitably
respond to the protestors, failing which they would call for a nationwide strike.
against organised, neighbourhood format retail stores have been springing up in
different parts of the country recently, with Uttar Pradesh and Orissa seeing
some of the more violent protests, as well as the exit of Reliance Retail, one
of the larger players in the segment.
trader organisations have protested the entry of multinationals and big corporate
houses into the retail trade, with some like Dharmendra Kumar, director, India
FDI Watch, even demanding closure of all corporate bodies in retail, big or small.
to Kumar, the main targets for the protests are Reliance, Wal-Mart and Bharti,
though protests span others such as Spencers and Subhiksha as well.
says that with Reliance opening over 15 smaller shops in one day, traders feel
threatened since it can proliferate localities with corner shop sthat can wipe
them out, unlike bigger retail formats like Future Group''s Big Bazaar.
wholesale Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) at Navi Mumbai also shut
shop at least partially for the day, with wholesalers in attendance at the protest
meet as well.
to Ramnik Chheda, president of the Retail Grams Dealers Federation, retailers
have for the first time downed shutters in protest, despite the festive season
shopping at its peak, to join the protestors.
to Chheda, retailers face a direct loss in sales totalling up to 30 per cent,
on account of the development of malls.
Monteiro, secretary, CITU, called for a blanket ban on foreign direct investment
(FDI) in retail, along with zoning restrictions which state stipulate retail outlets
over a certain size to be treated as wholesalers. He would also like to see licensing
policies introduced that regulate the entry through a joint committee of representatives
of government and retailers and / or wholesalers.
Kerala government has already restricted the entry of retail outlets, with the
states of UP, Bihar and Jharkhand witnessing protests as well.