With COVID-19 cases in Gujarat reducing, thousands of textile traders in Ahmedabad and Surat want the state administration to allow them to open their establishments for a longer period of time as they have again started getting orders from different parts of the country.
As per the state government order, commercial establishments, except essential services, can remain open from 9 am to 3 pm. The order came in the wake of a sudden rise in coronavirus cases across the state in April, says Gaurang Bhagat, president of Ahmedabad-based Muskati Market Mahajan Association , adding, “Since the last week of May, the second Covid wave has weakened. Hence, we have requested the state government to allow us to work from 9 am to 7 pm. Many traders have recently got fresh orders after a long time. They are facing difficulties to dispatch goods in time.” Bhagat, who is also chairman of Gujarat Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s (GCCI’s) trade committee, said generally activities in more than 100 textile markets in Ahmedabad and over 300 markets in Surat starts only after 11 am.
In such a situation, they are not able to complete banking -related work, dispatch of goods to buyers and other formalities by 3 pm. Instead of 9 am the government should permit textile markets to work from 11 am to at least 7 pm, so that they can do business properly, he added.
“Since past fortnight, traders have been getting orders of grey fabric, especially denim, from exporters based in Mumbai and Noida. If the government would allow them to work for longer hours, traders can fulfill orders in time by following all the Covid-related protocols issued by the authority,” he added.
Traders are the only common link among textile manufacturers, processors, exporters and retailers, said Bhagat, adding that if textile traders would start functioning normally, the entire textile value chain would be benefitted and again those who lost their jobs during mini lockdowns would be employed again.
Surat-based South Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industries (SGCCI) president Dinesh Navadiya said SGCCI had written a letter to the Gujarat CM to allow textile and diamond industries in Surat and other parts of South Gujarat from 9 am to 7 pm with immediate effect.
Due to the second COVID wave during April and May this year already Gujarat based textile traders incurred heavy business losses of more than 10,000 crore. The traders in the country’s two biggest textile hubs Ahmedabad and Surat couldn’t do business during this year’s marriage season, Ramzan and Ugadi festivities, which unfortunately fell during these two months when almost entire country was in the grip of second COVID wave, said Rangnath Sarada, secretary, Federation of Surat Textile Traders Association (FOSSTA).
Moreover, schools have been closed since the outbreak of pandemic in the year 202o and as result business of school uniforms has dried up, lamented Sarda adding that now cases are reducing, the authority should support a highly employment oriented textile sector by allowing traders to work for longer hours.