Science & Technology

Offline traders up in arms over Karnataka’s move to allow only e-commerce on weekdays

Offline traders have erupted in anger over Karnataka‘s decision to allow only e-commerce companies to deliver all items on weekdays during the period of partial lock extending up to May 4.

They were all asked to close their businesses by the police on Thursday citing an amended notification which caught both businessmen and transporters by surprise. “As it is, our businesses have been badly hit due to online companies. Now they (e-commerce) have been supported again,” said Rishab Dugar, secretary at Bangalore Electronic Dealers Association.

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Small dealers, he said, have been forced to close while e-commerce firms allowed to function. Before imposing the lockdown, dealers and businessmen had no prior notice from the government, nor did officials have any talks with them. The government, Dugar said, was backing online firms because they were big.

Automobile Dealers Association feared allowing only e-commerce companies to operate during the present lockdown will completely ruin its members. Association secretary C Venkatesh urged the government to also let them accept orders from customers and deliver products at their doorstep just like e-commerce companies do.

He sought help from the government by way of tax reliefs as the present lockdown has exacted a cost on them as they have fixed cost commitments with no revenues.

Karnataka Hardware & Allied Merchants Association said the health minister and BBMP commissioner had assured that there won’t be a lockdown at a recent meeting with members.

While Tuesday’s notification allowed all businesses to function during the day time, police got shops to close down on Thursday citing a subsequent notification. This not only caught them by surprise, but gave little or no time to fix goods in transit. Many of their items were stuck with transporters, association’s secretary Rahul B Goyal said.

Though they deal in hardware products which the construction industry needs, police were not allowing them to do business, he complained. They are wholesale dealers directly delivering products to either industries or end consumers, Goyal said.

Karnataka Agriculture Water Pump Traders Association said its members deal in products connected to agriculture and construction activities but have been ordered to close. “We can also do home delivery of our products to customers. But why this benefit extended only to e-commerce firms,” Association president Franky Hall said.

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