After a hiatus of few days, jewellers in the city downed shutters again on Wednesday seeking a rollback of excise duty levied on gold jewellery. This time, they have decided to go on an indefinite strike that would coincide with a nationwide protest.
It may be recalled that jewellery shops remained shut for four days from March 2 as part of a protest against the one per cent excise duty. This is the third time in a month that the shops are closed in protest against the Centre’s move. However, the strike was withdrawn after the Centre assured the representatives of various associations that their demands would be considered.
Several customers were disappointed to see the shops closed again. Sivagami, a resident of Kilpauk, said: “I visited T. Nagar to exchange jewellery for my wedding anniversary. But, I may have to drop plans as the posters announce indefinite strike.”
Of the 35,000 jewellery shops across the State, nearly 7,000 that are participating in the strike are in Chennai. Members of the Madras Jewellers and Diamond Merchant Association said they decided to continue the strike as there was no progress on the meeting of their demands. The Association president Jayanthilal Challani said: “Goldsmiths and staff of hallmarking centres are also participating in this strike. The business loss is estimated at Rs.70 crore every day in the city.”
Customers will have to bear the brunt of the levy of excise duty as it would be included in the wastage, say jewellers. All India Gem and Jewellery Trade Federation plans to hold a candle-light march in T. Nagar and also be part of a procession in New Delhi on March 17.
Jewellers noted that the shops were open for two days to help customers pick up the jewels they had ordered for important occasions.
N. Ananthapadmanabhan, All India Gem and Jewellery Trade Federation’s regional chairman, said the members plan to meet the Union Minister for Commerce on Thursday and also meet members of Parliament to seek support for the rollback of excise duty.