The day-long 'Bharat Vyapar Bandh' called by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) evoked a lukewarm response with most shops and commercial establishments open through the day.
The traders' body, however, claimed that shopkeepers supported its nationwide business shutdown call to protest against issues related to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and "unethical business practices of foreign e-commerce companies".
Delhi: Various markets in the national capital were open on Friday during the Bandh with many saying that despite supporting the cause, they did not want to suffer another day of losses. However, CAIT in a statement said the shutdown was a "grand success" as more than 8 crore small businesses belonging to about 40,000 trade associations across the country kept their shutters down and no trading activity took place in any commercial market.
Brijesh Goyal, president of the Chamber of Trade and Industry (CTI), said most of the markets in Delhi were open but the association extended its support to the nationwide business shutdown. "Around 98 per cent markets, hotels, restaurants and industrial areas were open except in some parts of Chawri Bazaar and Karol Bagh. However, they have extended their support. We also held a protest at Kashmiri Gate around 12.30 pm," Goyal said.
Although various market bodies said they support the cause for the Bandh, they could not shut down their shops or outlets due to multiple reasons. The Bandh was not enforced at Connaught Place market. "We are completely in support of the cause. However, it was not practically feasible to enforce the 'Bandh' in the market this time. The traders are already reeling under the losses they incurred during the lockdown and they have a heavy burden of rents. We completely support the cause and feel the demands are right," said Atul Bhargava, President, New Delhi Traders Association.
Echoing similar views, Sanjeev Mehra, President, Khan Market Association, said the issue is very genuine but the traders are already suffering and did not want to add another day of losses. So they did not participate in the Bandh.
Odisha: Traders across Odisha downed shutters and commercial vehicles remained off the roads in the state in solidarity with the nationwide 12-hour shutdown on Friday. The Bandh was observed for demanding simplification of the GST procedure and the e-way bill mechanism, among other issues. Around 20 lakh shops and business establishments were closed throughout the state, and there was no report of any untoward incident till the afternoon. The impact of the shutdown was felt in several places, including Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Rourkela, Sambalpur, Balasore and Berhampur.
Madhya Pradesh: The business remained unaffected in Madhya Pradesh's business capital Indore. According to local traders, businesses had already incurred losses due to the COVID-19-induced lockdown and they didn't want to down their shutters. The nationwide shutdown impacted other parts of Madhya Pradesh barring Indore, where political reasons and pressure made the difference, CAIT district president Mohammed Peethawala said.
"We have been registering our opposition over the GST's anomalies for a long. But we are not in support of a Bandh on this issue right now," said Ramesh Khandelwal, President of Ahilya Chambers of Commerce and Industries. Traders have suffered heavy losses due to the coronavirus outbreak since last year and they don't want to incur more damages by participating in the Bandh, he said.
Punjab and Haryana: Businesses remained unaffected in Punjab and Haryana on Friday during the "Bharat Vyapar Bandh" called by trader unions, with many saying though they supported the cause, they could not afford to down shutters. In Punjab's Hoshiarpur, Amritsar and Tarn Taran, shops and commercial establishments remained functional as usual and the impact of the bandh was not seen.
All markets in Amritsar, including the cycle markets at Railway Road, Ram Bagh area, cloth market inside the walled city and even the wholesale and retail medicine markets, were operational. Manish Arora, who runs a blanket and shawl business in the walled city area of Amritsar, said he saw no impact of any kind due to the bandh call.
Some market associations in the city, however, said though they supported the cause of the bandh, they could not afford to shut shop as they were already reeling under the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. There was no impact of the bandh in Haryana's Ambala and Kurukshetra as well. All major commercial centres and markets remained open. The sarafa (jewellery) market, grain market, wholesale cloth market and other commercial institutions in Ambala functioned as usual.