'If Reliance sells vegetable, what will we do?'
May 9, 2007 - 2:22:49 PM
Ranchi, May 9 - Wielding pumpkins and broomsticks, vegetable vendors - most of them women - Wednesday staged protests against the Reliance Fresh shops here, accusing the firm of undercutting and pushing them out of the market in one of the first such protests by small traders against organized retailing.
People have been queuing up to buy vegetables from the three Reliance shops set up in the last three months, with prices cheaper or on par with the street vendors. Naturally, vendors find their business hit.
Thousands of vegetable sellers, mostly women, hit Ranchi's streets Wednesday under the aegis of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, demanding closure of the Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance Retail stores.
His Reliance Industries is making a multibillion rupee foray into the retain business in the country and intends setting up chains of supermarkets, hypermarkets and speciality stores across the country.
'These shops have badly affected our business. Sales of vegetables have registered a drastic decline, which is affecting our livelihood,' said Vinod Bhagat, a member of the Ranchi Vegetable Seller Association.
Women protestors, carrying pumpkins and broomsticks in their hands, were shouting slogans against the Reliance shops.
'Reliance purchases vegetables directly from the growers and sells them in the market. They - pay higher prices to vegetable growers and sell at lower prices. The Reliance move is to destabilise us,' said Basati Kumari, a vegetable vendor.
Lalmunia Devi said: 'If Reliance sells vegetables, then what we will do? Sell mobile phones and petrol? Millions depend on vegetable trade. If Reliance is not stopped from selling vegetable, we will starve.'
But consumers are happy with the Reliance vegetable shops.
'We want domestic products like vegetables at a cheaper rate. The rising prices are badly affecting our budget and Reliance is providing us some relief,' said Amrita Banejee, a housewife.
An employee of Reliance Fresh said: 'We are providing fresh vegetables at cheaper rates. This is a consumer-oriented market and we are exploiting it.'
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