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Sep 20, 2007 at 09:19pm IST

Reliance, Subhiksha stores face closure, ire of traders

New Delhi: After UP, MP and Jharkhand, protesting traders forced Reliance and Subhiksha stores in some parts of Delhi to close down.

“This government won’t take notice of our strike unless we burn down few of these retail stores,” said one of the protestor.

Small traders across India are angry and their ire is directed against big organised retail players like Reliance and Subhiksha. Traders have also managed to mobilise political support for their cause.

Just Last month UP chief Minister Mayawati ordered the closure of Reliance Fresh stores. And now, the leader of the Bhartiya Janshakti Party, Uma Bharti has written to Mukesh Ambani, giving him 2-weeks’ time to close down Reliance Fresh stores in Madhya Pradesh.

Protests are gaining momentum after traders across Indore, Lucknow, Ghaziabad and Ranchi forced the closure of Reliance Fresh and Subhiksha stores. Protests are also expected to come up in Mumbai, Hyderabad and Dehradun.

“We want the government to have a shopping mall regulation act and a national policy for small traders,” said B L Kanchal, President, Rashtriya Vyapar Mandal.

While there is no policy for domestics organised retail, the government has commissioned local think-tank, ICRIER to study the impact of modern retail. The study that was based on a survey of over 2,000 Kirana Walas in more than 10 cities says, organized retail has only marginally impacted the profitability of small stores and hasn’t really led to job losses.

The traders’ association now aims to increase their scale of protests. It will hold demonstrations outside all Reliance Fresh and Subhiksha stores in the NCR in November that will be followed by protests in top the 100 metros in December.

Retail players have refused to comment but these incidents are likely to impact their expansion. For instance RIL has deferred its investment plans in West Bengal following the large-scale protests. With state governments backing small traders, the road ahead for retail giants will be anything but smooth.