With The Election Commission of India (ECI) declaring Zaveri Bazar an ‘Expenditure Sensitive Zone’, gold and other jewellery sales in one of Asia’s biggest and oldest bullion market has remained lacklustre during Gudi Padwa and the upcoming wedding season.
In expenditure sensitive zones — identified on the basis of literacy, economic development or the number of complaints received by officials in previous elections — special flying squads appointed by the police and election commission have the power to check and interrogate any person found with over Rs 50,000 cash.
Jewellers here say that fearing unnecessary “harassment” and “trouble”, customers are avoiding Zaveri Bazar. Every year, sales in Zaveri Bazar double during the Gudi Padwa festival and the following wedding season.
“The Election Commission’s decision to declare Zaveri Bazar a ‘Economic Sensitive Zone’ and to put a Rs 50,000 cash limit has slowed our business. With Rs 50,000, a person can buy not more than 10-15 grams gold. Customers, especially women , are apprehensive about the ceiling on cash possession,” Kumar Jain, vice-president of Shri Mumbai Jewellers Association, told The Indian Express.
“There is already a government rule which allows purchase and sale of gold up to Rs 2 lakh without PAN card. Now, imposing Rs 50,000 limit that too in Asia biggest bullion market, is spoiling our business,” Jain said.
The Election Commission’s announcement came Monday after Income Tax officials said they had seized “unaccounted” cash worth Rs 6.20 crore from the area during model code of conduct (MCC). Officials said the money could have been used for the upcoming polls. The Angadia business — who ferry precious cargo like diamonds or money — is also facing closure due to the MCC.