At a time when the country has been enveloped by an unprecedented rise in COVID-19 cases, offline traders in India have called on the government to not allow e-commerce companies such as Amazon and Flipkart to sell and deliver non-essential goods in the areas where curfew or lockdown has been implemented to curb the spread of the virus.
The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) that claims to represent more than eight crore traders through over 40 thousand trade associations, on Thursday voiced their concerns through a letter written to Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal.
The letter is aimed to overcome the recent demand for allowing essential order deliveries by e-commerce companies in Maharashtra where the government brought new restrictions earlier this week.
“It will be highly unfair if the e-commerce players are allowed to deliver all kinds of goods, whereas brick-and-mortar retailers are allowed to deal only in essential commodities,” reads the letter.
The CAIT also said that the selling of non-essentials via e-commerce platforms would create an “uneven level-playing field” for the traders whose shops would remain shut for compliance of the curfew orders.
“The sinister designs of these companies to take advantage of Corona pandemic is a shameful act and shows that they are least bothered for any pandemic or casualties and are more interested in spreading wings of their business on the coffin of the people,” the traders’ body said.
In addition to that, the CAIT also asked how the e-commerce portals would be able to deliver non-essential goods since they operate as a pure marketplace and were not allowed to own any inventory. The traders registered with e-commerce companies as sellers will not be in a position to deliver goods due to remain under lockdown, it noted.
The letter written by the CAIT comes in response to the requests made by e-commerce companies to the Maharashtra government to allow non-essential deliveries through their platforms under the ongoing restrictions.
“Currently, we are enabling deliveries of essential products in the state of Maharashtra in line with new guidelines set by the government. However, there is learning from the last one year that urgent customer needs vary across households and it is challenging to define a static essentials list; therefore we request the government to allow delivery of all products as soon as possible,” said an Amazon spokesperson.
To combat the steep rise in coronavirus cases, un addition to the guidelines issued in Maharashtra recently, the Delhi government has also announced weekend curfew in the capital city, limiting non-essential services to curb the spread of the virus.