States

Jewellers urge CM to allow operations on festival days

A protest banner outside closed shops at Crawford Market in Mumbai on Thursday.  

Jewellers and restaurant and mall owners have urged the State government to relax the restrictions imposed in view of the rising COVID-19 cases to protect jobs and ensure livelihood for millions.

The All India Gem and Jewellery Domestic Council (GJC) on Thursday wrote to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray urging him to allow jewellers to operate on Gudi Padwa and other summer festival days as well as during the wedding season of April-June.

The GJC has requested the CM to provide relief to MSME jewellers and avoid second successive year of close-down of operations.

“The new lockdown restrictions ‘Break the Chain’ imposed till April 30 have the potential to break the backbone of every jeweller in Maharashtra,” the GJC said.

It has assured the government that jewellers will follow all the mandated COVID-19 protocols in their respective regions while using all possible pro-customer physical-digital-virtual interactive methods in marketing and sales.

In the letter, Ashish Pethe, GJC chairman, said the jewellery industry was seeing an upward graph but now with the new restrictions in April, the livelihood of many craftsmen and self-employed jewellers would be affected and their families would suffer. “The traditional Make in India indigenous gem and jewellery will not be able to survive one more lockdown as on-ground situation is really bad,” he said.

Mr. Pethe said, “Jewellery buying cannot be considered as a casual purchase and should be part of essential services during festivals and wedding season. A jewellery store is undoubtedly one of the only secured retail formats where COVID-19 protocols and social distancing norms are adhered to very strictly.”

On Thursday, several hospitality associations, including the FHRAI, HRAWI, NRAI and AHAR, staged silent protests across the State against the curbs.

Organised under the United Hospitality Forum of Maharashtra, the associations initiated campaign #MissionRoziRoti to highlight the industry’s desperate bid for survival. Restaurant owners and their employees participated in the protests by standing outside the establishments holding placards.

“The hospitality industry demands fair play and justice. We request the government to either allow us to continue regular operations with the mandated SOPs or permanently shut us down, rather than keep us half alive and in a state of misery,” Sherry Bhatia, president, HRAWI (Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India), said.

“A majority of the establishments have mounting debts and face threats of insolvency along with millions of job losses. With fear of losing jobs like last year, many workers have begun to leave for their homes again. Through our silent protests today, we are requesting the government to allow us to resume our work and if not, the government must take care of our incomes,” he added.

Rima Kirtikar, chief marketing officer of Viviana Mall, Thane, said the restrictions would impact not just malls and retail brands but the very livelihoods of their employees. “Having just commenced operations and slowly normalising operations, retail brands and malls were able to ensure that the impacted personnel could start earning again. This decision could be detrimental to not just business but to several thousands of employees,” she said.

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Printable version | May 7, 2021 6:19:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/states/jewellers-urge-cm-to-allow-operations-on-festival-days/article34275341.ece

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