‘Traders have stocked up for upcoming festivals and will make a loss if stores remain shut now. We suffered last year. We can’t suffer again. There is no scientific basis for closing all commercial establishments. How long will the government keep them shut?’
A section of traders in Maharashtra have warned that it will open stores Monday onwards in defiance to the Covid-19 curbs.
The call has been given by Maharashtra Chamber of Commerce Industry and Agriculture (MACCIA), an apex body of 800 trade and industrial associations in the state.
However, other key bodies such as the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) and Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association (FRTWA) have opposed MACCIA’s move.
On Sunday the Maharashtra government issued state wide restrictions-shutting malls, multiplexes, markets and non-essential stores. A weekend lockdown too has been announced. These curbs have sparked protests from industry bodies and hoteliers who have sought opening of establishments.
On Wednesday, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray held a meeting with representatives of various trade associations and assured them to consider their demands. Industry bodies are expecting the government to announce some relaxations on Saturday.
“We are expecting the government to announce relaxations. We have decided to keep our stores open irrespective of the government decision. A meeting of all trade associations was held on Thursday and a unanimous decision was taken to this effect,” said MACCIA senior vice president Lalit Gandhi.
“Traders have stocked up for upcoming festivals and will make a loss if stores remain shut now. We suffered last year. We can’t suffer again. There is no scientific basis for closing all commercial establishments. How long will the government keep them shut,” Gandhi asked.
Other trade associations however are taking a more conciliatory stance and said MCCIA was hijacking traders’ issue and that its decision to open stores was politically influenced. Gandhi denied the charges.
“We will wait for the government’s decision. We have to respect the chief minister and have no intention of breaking the law,” said Viren Shah of FRTWA.
CAIT’s general secretary Praveen Khandelwal said the body does not endorse the call for defying the rules and opening outlets from Monday. "We believe it will be an extreme and immature step to do so," he said.