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‘Bharat Bandh’ on Friday to protest against Walmart-Flipkart deal, e-pharmacies


NEW DELHI: Traders’ body CAIT has called a ‘Bharat Bandh’ on Friday to protest against Walmart’s acquisition of home-grown retail major Flipkart and FDI in the retail sector.

“All commercial markets across the country will remain closed and no commercial activity will take place. About 7 crore small businesses all over the country are expected to participate in the bandh,” the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) said in a statement.

The traders’ body also claimed that a ‘Trade Bandh’ will be observed by Delhi traders in which all wholesale and retail markets will remain closed as part of their participation in the ‘Bharat Trade Bandh’.

CAIT Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said that a protest dharna will be held at Jantar Mantar on Friday against the Walmart-Flipkart deal and FDI in retail.

In January, the Union Cabinet decided to allow 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in single-brand retail under automatic route, and also eased local sourcing norms.

Delhi traders are also demanding immediate promulgation of an ordinance to stop sealing of shops in the city, it said.

“Besides FDI, the Delhi Trade Bandh is also focussing on sealing issue demanding the government to bring an ordinance to protect Delhi from sealing. To lodge their strong protest, the Delhi traders in large numbers will also join a Protest Dharna at Jantar Mantar on Friday displaying their anguish and resentment,” CAIT said in a statement.

It further said that similar protests will also be held across the country in all states and the state level-trade associations will submit a memorandum to their district collector all over the country.

A statement issued by CAIT earlier this week claimed that prominent markets in Delhi, including Connaught Place, Chawri Bazar, Chandni Chowk, Sadar Bazar, Kashmiri Gate, Pahar Ganj, Karol Bagh, South Extension, Greater Kailash, Amar Colony, Green Park, Khan Market, Rajouri Garden, Tilak Nagar, Laxmi Nagar, Vikas Marg, Lajpat Nagar, Shahdara, etc will remain closed on September 28.

Khandelwal had alleged that the Monitoring Committee is conducting sealing as per its own wishes disregarding the provisions of MCD Act.

He said the government should bring an ordinance to provide relief to traders from sealing with an Amnesty Scheme, declaring maintenance of status quo as on December 31, 2017.

Meanwhile, the apex body of chemists has also declared a day-long nationwide strike on Friday to protest the Centre’s move to regularise online pharmacies.

The All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD) has opposed the government’s decision, stating e-pharmacy poses threat to their business and could lead to the risk of drug abuse.

“Repeated appeals have been made by the AIOCD through memorandums to the authorities and the departments concerned. The seriousness of the issue is evident through numerous cases of illegal online sale of medicines by the so-called e-pharmacies and online portals.”

“The AIOCD has already observed two Bharat Bandhs earlier. If the appeal does not get a positive response from the government, we will not have any other option than to call for a nationwide indefinite agitation. Chemist shops across the country will remain closed on September 28,” said Sandeep Nangia, the organising secretary of the AIOCD and the president of the Retail Distributors Chemists Association (RDCA).

While the drug prices have been regulated by the government, online portals offer discounts up to 70 per cent against a 10 per cent discount available at wholesalers.

The AIOCD members alleged e-pharmacies would encourage irrational usage of medicines and sale of spurious drugs.