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Major sops in state’s draft policy to boost retail trade

The draft policy also features suggestions to allow retail enterprises to stay open round the year to cater to the needs of the working class.

Written by Zeeshan Sheikh | Mumbai |
August 4, 2015 10:07:40 am

The Maharashtra government’s draft policy to boost retail trade in the state envisages major real estate sops for retail entertainment zones to be earmarked in cities, and inclusion of food and grocery under the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act as essential services.

The draft policy also features suggestions to allow retail enterprises to stay open round the year to cater to the needs of the working class and other customers provided that employees are given compulsory weekly offs on a preferential basis. It also wants such firms to be allowed to conduct retail operations from 5 am to 11 pm. Most shops now shut by 9.30 pm.

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The retail entertainment zones will be designated areas reserved in the Development Control Regulations of each city, which will reserve spaces for retail and entertainment on the same lines as reservations for essential services and restaurants.

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This is expected to attract top retail chains — local and global — which are finding it tough because of the spiraling cost of real estate in major cities and towns. Going by the draft policy, the state plans to include food and grocery under the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) as essential services, considering the need in view of the changed work timings and lifestyle.

“Sometimes occurrences like bandhs result in compulsory shutting of retail establishments. This leads to disruption of product access to citizens on the one hand and huge wastage of produce on the other hand for retailers and ultimately to the nation,” the draft states. The state government has suggested making some changes to the Development Control Regulations (DCR). The draft policy mentions providing higher ground coverage for malls that will come up in the state. Ground Coverage is the total land on which a developer is allowed to build. In Maharashtra, the ground coverage ratio for malls is up to 50 per cent. Under the new rules, the state wants to increase it to 70 per cent.

“The malls house various retail components across floors, but customer movement reduces on the higher levels (floors) hence, making the upper floors less productive. The retail developments shall be allowed higher ground coverage up to 70 per cent,” the draft states. It also seeks to increase the height of shops in malls from the existing limits of 4.5 metre to 5.5 metre.

“The availability of higher floor to floor height allows the common areas and shops to look spacious and hence provide relaxed and comfortable shopping environment to customers. The floor to floor height limit shall be raised to 5.5 metres, as is allowed in several other states,” the draft says. The state has sought suggestions and objections to the draft policy and will finalise the policy after receiving inputs.

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