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Kerala Chief Minister budges, offers to hold talks with restive traders

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on July 15, 2021

Head of the traders’ body says they would await outcome of talks before deciding on further action

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has sought to placate the restive trading community in the state by inviting them for talks here on Friday. The climb-down comes after he dared them, while in New Delhi, to defy lockdown protocols and force-open shops and face the consequences.

T Naziruddeen, President, Kerala Vyapara Vyavasayi Ekopana Samithi, the traders’ collective, said in Kozhikode that it would wait for the outcome of the talks to take a decision on whether to go ahead with their protest action and open their outlets for business, originally planned from today (Thursday).

Concerns to be discussed

“I spoke to Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, Member of the CPI(M) Polit Bureau, and the Chief Minister’s Office on Wednesday. Then the Chief Minister called me in the evening. He has agreed to discuss our concerns in detail during the scheduled talks in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday,” Naziruddeen said.

The trading community is upset that it has incurred a loss of Rs 25,000 crore over the last two months under the over-restrictive lockdown regulations that allow shops and outlets dealing in non-essential items to open only on alternate days. The total lockdown on weekends has kept away retail shoppers.

According to the traders, family-run neighbourhood shops have been the worst-hit by what they called unscientific lockdown regulations. Most run their business on credit extended to trusted customers in the neighbourhood, but most tend to default after pandemic-specific concerns catch up with them.

Avoidable crowds at outlets

On the other hand, the myopic view of the authorities in clamping down on the traders with enforced short durations and working hours, have only further confounded the issue of avoidable crowding, with anxious customers milling around to replenish stocks of essential goods at home.

On the other hand, the Chief Minister, who was in Delhi when the traders had served an ultimatum, dared them, saying that he would not allow them to break protocols at a time when the second Covid wave had hardly abated and a feared third wave was knocking on the doors of the state.

Published on July 15, 2021

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