Mumbai : Thousands of small retailers and farmers Wednesday gathered at Azad Maidan in south Mumbai to protest foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail ventures by overseas and domestic big business.
Most wholesale markets and retail shops across the metropolis and its suburbs were closed.
Protesters included retail traders, wholesalers, hawkers and daily wage workers, mainly hailing from areas around Mumbai and the main wholesale vegetable hub at Vashi in Navi Mumbai. They started gathering for the protest, organised under the banner of Federation of Associations of Maharashtra (FAM), amidst heavy security cover.
“We are protesting the central government’s proposal to allow FDI in retail trade and on the issue of amended Agricultural Produce Market Committee Act (APMC) enacted by the Maharashtra government,” said FAM president Mohan Gurnani.
“Our peaceful protest is to oppose the government’s decision. It is a question of the livelihood of hundreds of people,” he added.
“The government’s decision will give the corporate sector, that has deep pockets, a big boost. They are in a position to sell goods at a lesser price initially. Once that happens, small retail and ‘kirana’ stores (corner shops) will be wiped out in the one-sided competition and consumers will get a raw deal,” Gurnani told reporters.
The FAM chief added that Wednesday’s protest was a voluntary trade shutdown across the state.