Traders' bodies including the Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samithi and Kerala Samsthana Vyapari Vyavasayi Samithi had earlier called for a 12-hour shutdown in the state to protest the Centre's decison to permit 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail.
"Though Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has said that FDI in retail will not be allowed in Kerala, the government is yet to come out with an unambiguous policy statement on the issue," a functionary of the Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samithi rued.
The traders fear that if multinational companies are allowed into the state, both the small and medium retailers might be impacted negatively. Neighbourhood shops cannot obviously compete with MNCs like Wal-Mart or Tesco and as a result they will be wiped out, the Samithi stressed.
A majority of hotels in Kerala also downed their shutters today. Safety Food Inspectors have been "harassing" them of late, the hoteliers alleged. Their main demand is that the Kerala Government must immediately correct "flaws" in implementation of the state Food Safety Act.
Recently numerous hotels and restaurants were forced to throw away large quantities of prepared food after officials described some of the items on their respective menus as "unfit for human consumption".
According to Safety Food Inspectors, these hotels were mostly supplying stale and unhygienic food to the customers. The kitchens in most of the establishments were found to be extremely filthy, the officials said. However, the hoteliers claimed that they had complied with the norms.
Incidentally, the Bakers Association Kerala has expressed solidarity with the stir organised by the Kerala Hotel and Restaurant Association today. Proprietors of bakeries have decided to clean up their 'bormas' (kitchens) during the dawn-to-dusk shutdown.
Medical shops too are reportedly planning to join the agitation that will end at 6 p.m.