Vijay C Roy
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, November 20
Last year, modern retailers approached then Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and sought his intervention for smooth functioning of business.
In June this year, a group of building owners who have rented out their premises to Reliance Industries for operating its various businesses across Punjab sought the state government’s intervention for reopening of their stores, which were laid siege to by protesting farmers. In September, Flipkart Wholesale decided to shut its 50,000 sq ft cash and carry store “Best Price Wholesale” in Bathinda after it remained closed for months due to farmers’ agitation.
Paid extra cost
Due to road blockades, retailers had to pay extra logistics cost ranging between 10% and 30%, which was subsumed in input cost, making the goods costlier. Ravinder Singh, retailer from Amritsar
These examples indicate that the trading activities in Punjab bore the brunt of farmers’ protest. According to the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), around 15 lakh traders in Punjab, besides modern day retailers like company-owned multi-branded stores, were affected by protests directly or indirectly.
Harkesh Mittal, state president (Punjab chapter), CAIT, said the trading community suffered a loss of around Rs 75,000 crore due to the protest as many modern day retail stores were still shut in the state.
“The loss is attributed to the protests, bandh and restricted movement of goods due to road blockades and many a time the suspension of railways services. Further, due to road blockades, limited number of traders from other states travelled to Punjab to place orders for goods such as hosiery items, apparels and sports goods that also resulted in loss of business,” Mittal said.
“Due to road blockades, retailers had to pay extra logistics cost ranging between 10 per cent and 30 per cent, which was subsumed in input cost, making the goods costlier,” said Ravinder Singh, a retailer from Amritsar. Though retailers heaved a sigh of relief on Friday after the government decided to repeal the farm laws, the losses they incurred could not be underestimated.
A large number of store and building owners who have rented out their premises to Reliance Industries are still clueless about the commencement of business. Reliance has around 275 stores in Punjab, all of which are shut.
They claimed to have been facing severe financial crisis as they had not been getting any rental income for the past one year. “Our losses are running into crores as the buildings are on loans and we have to bear the burden of huge EMIs. As per the agreements, no rental payment can be made in case there is no billing or store is closed due to agitation, etc,” said Prabhnoor Singh Walia from Kapurthala.