Grain traders relent, to resume business today

The grain traders of Vashi’s Agricultural Produce And Marketing Committee (APMC) have decided to bring in temporary relief for retailers and consumers, who are known to make bulk purchases from the market, and call off the strike temporarily. 

Temporary relief: The grain traders of Vashi’s APMC will resume business today after a strike that lasted for almost a week in protest of the Local Body Tax. Pic/Sameer Markande

Popularly known as ‘dana bazaar’, the market will resume business starting today, after a strike that lasted for almost a week in protest of the Local Body Tax (LBT). However, the traders of the spices market will continue with their protest and have decided not to start business till the time the government relents.

“The LBT does not apply to essential commodities like paddy, rice, wheat and pulses in whole grain, split and broken form, flour of wheat and rice (maida, rawa and suji) which our market has. But we thought we must support our fellow traders in this fight. So we decided to keep our market shut as well. It’s been over six days since the business closed, and we have already suffered huge losses. There is definitely a money crisis in the market,” said Vora.

The decision to resume business was taken by the grain market traders at a meeting last morning. Jayesh Vora, director of the grain market, said that this is just a temporary respite and that on May 18, they have called for another meeting to decide whether to continue business or down shutters.

Vora said, “In a meeting on Saturday, a unanimous decision will be taken about the further course of action. We had thought of starting business from Tuesday itself but realised that a major chunk of the mathadi (headloaders) workers may have gone to their villages since it is the month of May. So we have asked their leader to send them a message to return.”

Considering that a certain chunk of retailers are on strike, MiD DAY checked with Vora if that would affect grain trade, but he said, “If retailers pick up commodities it would be fine. Otherwise it would continue to remain in the stockroom.”

Narendra Patil, leader of the Mathadi Kamgar Union, confirmed that he had been informed that business would start from May 15. He said, “The villages of a lot of labourers had been hit by drought so they did not go back. Those who went are from nearby places like Pune and Nashik, and would come back as soon as possible.” The spices market, however, would continue to remain shut. Kirti Rana, director of APMC market, said, “Even with cess, traders did not have a good experience. So they are unable to trust the government as far as implementation of LBT is concerned. We are 1,200 licence holders in the spices market, and we would keep business shut until the government decides to simplify the process.” Ramnik Cheeda, president of the Mumbai Grains Dealers Association and the Retail Grains Dealers Association, said, “We had participated in the protest for two days but our association has now decided that from tomorrow (Wednesday) we won’t be closing the shops as we don’t want to cause inconvenience to the common man. We have around 10,800 shopkeepers attached to our association.”

Viren Shah, president of the prominent Federation of Retail Traders Association (FRTWA), said, “It was a unanimous decision of our federation not to join in the bandh tomorrow. We did shut business over the last few days to show our support. But then we realised that shutting down is not the solution. Our association alone has 20,000 members.” 

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