Cong against e-commerce firms delivering non-essential items

New Delhi, April 18 (IANS) The Congress on Saturday voiced concern over the government’s decision to allow e-commerce companies to deliver non-essential items during the lockdown period, saying that it will break the backbone of the retail sector in the country. It demanded that there be a level playing field.

Addressing a press conference through video conferencing, senior Congress leader and former Union Minister Ajay Maken said, “As per the sixth economic census, retail trade is the most dominant economic activity outside agriculture.”

He said that it factors more than 35.41 per cent of total economic activities outside agriculture, which is the largest.

He said that as far as employment is concerned it gives “one fifth” of the total employment in India as it generates employment for 2.72 crore people in India, second after manufacturing.

Highlighting the plight of the retail traders across the country, the former union minister said, “The traders have locked down their shops in last one month, even as the GST, demonetisation and e-commerce are breaking their backbone.”

Maken said that they have to pay fixed electricity charges, property tax, commercial tax and several other charges.

“And on top of this clause 14 of the MHA order has allowed to ply the vehicles of e-commerce companies. And surprisingly this order does not stop the e-commerce company from trading non- essential items,” he said.

“There is no level field for non trading items. And if the traders are not given level field then after the lockdown period they would not be able to stand on their feet,” he said.

The Congress leader added that on top of that they have to pay the salaries and electricity charges. “So I request the government that it should clarify the order and come forward for the rescue of these traders,” Maken said.

To a question on the leaders of other countries holding press conferences, he said, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi is making people aware through his address but many people are not getting answers to their questions and issues like shortage of PPE and others still remain unanswered.”

He said monotonous talk is being carried by the Prime Minister.

When asked about the FIR registered against the doctors of Hindu Rao hospital for accepting personal protective equipment from a NGO, Maken said, “Today even doctors from LNJP have approached me and said that PPEs provided to doctors and medical teams are sub-standard.”

“And if the NGO gives the PPE then a FIR is registered against the doctors. It is saddening,” he said.

To a question on the wheat flour scam in Madhya Pradesh where the people were given less flour in the packet, Maken slamming the BJP government in the state said, “This is Shivraj (Singh Chouhan) style of governance as only 7-8 kg wheat flour is coming out of 10 kg packet. And this is the biggest sin and soon the people will give a befitting reply to the BJP.”

On Saturday, the total number of Covid-19 patients in India rose to 14,378 with 480 people losing their lives to the pandemic across the country.