Garment and footwear traders cry foul | Ranchi News

Ranchi/Dumka/Dhanbad: Garment and footwear traders in several districts, including chief minister Hemant Soren’s constituency in Dumka, staged massive protests on Tuesday and shouted slogans against the state government for not permitting them to open their shops even though many other sectors were allowed.
On Monday, the government gave the nod to open shops across different sectors ranging from consumer durables to IT, electronics and telecom as part of Unlock 1.0. Garments, footwear, salons and beauty parlours are a few which are still under lockdown, causing resentment among the traders. Opposition BJP, too, has ridiculed the government’s decision and former chief minister Raghubar Das demanded that Soren should immediately allow opening of garment and footwear shops.
Talking to TOI, Jharkhand Thok Vastra Vikreta Sangh president Anil Jalan said, “We don’t understand the logic of not allowing garment shops to open when a host of other trades are allowed to resume. Is clothing not essential for the public?”
Around 3,500 wholesale and retail garment traders operate in Ranchi alone. Giving rough estimates of the losses they were incurring since the lockdown, Jalan said, “The annual garment trade volume is about Rs 2,000 crore in Ranchi. This sector considers March to May is its crucial and peak months as 40% trading is done because of the marriage season and the festivals. This time, the transaction is completely zero.”
Stressing that all stocks procured for the March to May season will go waste, he added, “Garments get outdated soon. For instance, the stocks which we bought in advance for sale during Eid will no longer be purchased by anyone.”
In Soren’s Dumka constituency, traders rued of the “discriminatory” norms. Police tried to persuade the protesters to remove blockades but to no avail. A protesting trader, Pradip Gupta, said, “We feel discriminated as most of the shops of non-essential items have opened. Garment, shoe and slipper shops are still under lock and key. Soon, they will be forced to permanently shut their business.”
Protests were also held in Chaibasa (West Singbhum) and coal capital, Dhanbad, too. President of Hirapur Chamber of Commerce, Sanjeev Chaurasia, “We have spent all our capitals during the lockdown as the minimum maintenance cost of even a medium-size shop per day is around Rs 3,000. We have to pay staff salaries, besides shop and warehouse rents even during the closure. Calculating these expenses for the 72 days of lockdown period gives a fair amount of the losses we incurred.”
Umesh Heliwal, a garment trader of Kendua in Dhanbad who is also the secretary of Jharkhand Industries and Trade, said, “We have been demanding permission for reopening for more than one month and felt let down after Monday’s orders. We are even ready to follow strictest guidelines and ready to operate shops for one or two hours a day or on alternate days.”
Former CM Das said, “I had written to the state government on May 18 itself, requesting for permission to allow garment and footwear shops in green zones. Now, the government must immediately open them in the interest of many small and medium traders. Neighbouring states like Bengal and Odisha have already permitted the opening of these shops.”

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