Owners of buildings housing reliance stores seek Punjab CM intervention for reopening

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Chandigarh, Jun 30 (PTI) A group of building owners who have rented their premises to Reliance Industries for operating its various businesses across Punjab on Tuesday sought the intervention of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for reopening of their stores which were laid siege by protesting farmers for the past several months.

Farmers protesting against the Centre's three farm laws are not allowing Reliance stores to operate in Punjab.

The owners said they are in a deep financial crisis and moving towards bankruptcy as they have not been getting any rental incomes for the past 7-8 months because all Reliance retail outlets are closed due to farmer protests.

They said the agitating farmers have put their tents outside various stores.

Reliance has around 275 stores in Punjab and all of them are shut, they said.

'We are bearing losses in crores as the buildings are on loans from banks and we have to bear the burden of huge EMIs, municipal taxes, electricity and water charges, etc. Moreover, the livelihood of lakhs of workers, employees and their families has also been adversely affected,' said Prabhnoor Singh Walia from Kapurthala in a statement here.

He added that 'farmer leaders warn us of severe consequences if we open the stores. We have even approached the district police and other local authorities but in vain. We have also met Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) leaders and 'Kisan Jathebandeyaan' a couple of times and raised our concerns but to no avail'.

As per the agreements with the company, no rental payment can be made in case there is no billing or the store is closed due to agitation, Walia added.

'We are all Punjabis and fully support the farmers, but such forced closure of Reliance's stores is only harming Punjab, as Reliance procures a lot of products locally, provides huge direct and indirect employment to Punjabis and pays huge taxes to the state.

'No corporate would be interested to invest in the state if they are not allowed to operate peacefully,' said Dharampal Singh Nain from Jagraon.

Nirmal Singh from Jalandhar said, 'We have borrowed loans and invested all our hard earned money in the properties, but such forced closure is ruining us.' He added that the stores are open in all other states. 'But in Punjab, farmers are not allowing to open even those stores which are under essential services, so we are here to request the CM for help.' 'We also appeal to the farmers associations to carry on their protest peacefully against the government but allow Reliance to open its stores.

'Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) has already said in a regulatory filing that it has no plans of entering contract or corporate farming, and it has not purchased any agricultural land in India for the purpose of contract farming,' said Manav Sandhu from Taran Taran.

Sandeep Singh Brar, officer on special duty to the Punjab CM who interacted with the aggrieved building owners, assured all possible support to them and promised to take it up with the CM, as per the statement. PTI CHS VSD HRS hrs

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