Walmart’s plan to set up a wholesale store in Narayanapuram in Andhra Pradesh’s Vizianagaram district came with a promise to provide employment opportunities to over 100 persons in the village. But the number of livelihoods it may affect is far more.
Traders in Vizianagaram have opposed the opening of Walmart’s ‘best price modern store’, claiming that the move would hit more than one lakh people in the district. They launched a strike on Saturday, with around 6,000 shops downing their shutters.
Already, the American retail company has four stores in Andhra Pradesh — Guntur, Rajahmundry, Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam districts, and is waiting for approval from several departments to launch the fifth one in Vizianagaram. As around 60 per cent of the goods to be sold at the store would be fruits and vegetables, Walmart claims that the store will benefit farmers in the district.
However, the District Chamber of Commerce in Vizianagaram has said traders and labourers would suffer once the retail giant begins business.
PSC Nageswara Rao, the president of the Vizianagaram Chamber of Commerce, said the district was largely dependent on trading.
“Unlike other districts, Vizianagaram had no industrial or agricultural growth in the recent past. So, around one lakh people, out of the total population of three lakh, directly or indirectly depend on trading,” he told The Federal.
Rao asked whether Walmart could assure that it would procure produces only from farmers in the district.
“The stores in the other four districts too have been impacting traders there, but not to a larger extent as the markets are huge in those districts. However, traders in Vizianagaram cannot escape bearing the brunt as the district is already backward in terms of development,” Rao said.
He added that the Chamber of Commerce had met Vizianagaram MLA Veera Bhadra Swamy Kolagatla and raised the issue with him. “We believe that the MLA will take it up with Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and get it resolved,” Rao said.