New Delhi/Jaipur, Oct 25 (IANS) Rajasthan’s pan shop owners’ associations on Wednesday appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to quash an advisory that bars them from selling non-tobacco products, saying it would affect their livelihood.
On September 22, the Union Health Ministry sent an advisory to the Rajasthan government preventing authorised shops selling tobacco products from dealing with other products such as toffees, candy, chips, biscuits and soft drinks — products essentially meant for children.
The advisory says if tobacco vendors are found selling these products, their licence might get cancelled.
According to the retailers, the advisory was undemocratic and any action will have a severe life-threatening effect on the livelihoods of millions of families involved in micro-retailing, driving them to extreme poverty.
“This is grossly unfair and a draconian suggestion. Any forced reduction in the products sold by us will have a severe financial impact on us as we have regular fixed clientele and some of them will permanently leave us if we are not able to cater to their needs,” said a statement from the Pan Shops Owners’ Association of India.
“In any locality, there is no restriction on the number of petty retail outlets which exist next to each other. If we are forced to sell only one kind of goods, there will not be enough customers to make it viable to earn their livelihoods.”
The retailers say their livelihood depends equally on selling of tobacco products and non-tobacco items of everyday use such as bread, eggs, juices, soft drinks and wafers.
Jaipur-based Pink City Pan Merchant Sanstha said if the suggestion is not rolled back small retailers will be forced to resort to illegal activities to survive, which makes them more vulnerable.
“We appeal to the Prime Minister to intervene to protect micro retailers from this new, arbitrary, life-threatening suggestion disallowing any product being sold from our shops,” said Gulab Chand Khoda, Director of the Sanstha.
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