BENGALURU: Owing to the huge losses sustained by the business community and non-availability of specific spares anywhere else in the State, the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI) and 30 other trade bodies have written to the government asking for immediate intervention to reopen the commercial establishments in Chickpet and surrounding areas.
The BBMP had sealed the areas on June 24 to contain the surge in Covid-19 cases in the City during the last fortnight. Many shopkeepers had voluntarily shut shop too. The letter, sent to Revenue Minister R Ashoka, also Covid-19 management in-charge, on Wednesday called for the withdrawal of the lockdown in KR Market, Kalasipalya, New Taragupet, Mamoolpet and surrounding areas.
C R Janardhana, FKCCI president, told TNIE, “On our request, BBMP came over and sanitised the area completely. We were hopeful of the areas reopening. But officials later told us that they can be reopened only by July 31,” he said.
“The area is a hub of trading activities, with a daily turnover of around `100 crore. The GST contribution per day alone comes to `1 crore,” Janardhana said. “Many allied businesses are impacted. The spares for machinery available here are not available anywhere in the country,” he said.
The letter pointed out that shopkeepers were following all precautionary measures laid down by the government to control the pandemic. “The footpath merchants are responsible for spreading the pandemic. They need to be controlled,” the letter said. BBMP could not be reached for its response.
STRIKING A BALANCE
Bengaluru Pete, the nerve centre of the city’s trade, has been locked for a couple of weeks now, effectively bringing production in factories to a grinding halt. No doubt, the government has been prudent in sealing down this wholesale market, given the sudden rash of cases in the area, but this has led to glitches in the production line and supplies to retail markets, thereby impacting thousands of livelihoods. Not to mention the GST inflow to the government. Trade organisations cannot be blamed for lobbying for an early end to the lockdown here. While the business chamber is pointing fingers at street vendors for the virus spread, shopkeepers would do well to follow experts’ advice on keeping the pandemic at bay. The government will have to strike a fine balance in opening up this area, while ensuring that it doesn’t turn into a Koyambeedu. Choking the lifeline of commerce would be self-defeating.