Mumbai: Traders urge Maharashtra government to allow reopening of non-essential shops in phases

Amidst the decline in COVID-19 cases in Mumbai and other cities, traders have urged Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to allow the reopening of non-essential shops in a phased manner. The Federation of Retail Traders Association president Viren Shah said this is necessary, as monsoon is fast approaching and there is a strong demand for monsoon-related products. “Monsoon-related products should be brought in the notification of essentials, like cement, ready plasters, repair motors, micro concrete, waterproofing products, paints, and waterproofing products,” said Shah. Further, he added rainwear, umbrella, plastic sheet, plumbing materials and hardware goods should be included in essential products as their supply has been hit badly due to the lockdown.

These retail and wholesale shops and suppliers should be brought under essential commodities, so the people of Maharashtra don’t face hardships, he said. He hoped the government will issue revised guidelines soon.

Traders have expressed serious displeasure over the Maharashtra government’s decision to extend the lockdown up to 7am on June 1. The federation has estimated that the total business loss incurred by retail businesses and small- and medium-size retail traders at Rs 69,500 crore for the period of April 4 to May 31. “The state government has not even mentioned cities like Mumbai where cases are dropping and manageable and unlocking the city in a gradual manner. It’s high time that the Maharashtra government thinks of traders’ issues and concerns.”

“We have supported the government in the lockdown, but in return, there is no reciprocal subsidy for the closure of trade of 13 lakhs in Maharashtra for more than 55 days ending May 31. Business losses and unemployment are mounting up,’’ said Shah.

“We will take a legal opinion of the loss of business and lack of subsidy or direct money to the workers. Besides, there has been no waiver in property tax or various license fees,” he noted.

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