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Photographs By Ms Runa Das
Traders of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Hong Kong who participated in the26 Industrial Trade Fair in the city complained of very low business despite claims of overwhelming response and success by Mr Javed Ahmed Khan, Minister of Disaster Management, Fire and Emergency services, Government of West Bengal.
Mr Khan said that this event is a big achievement and the Chief Minister is trying hard to showcase the state as a tourist as well as an industrial destination to the world. Mr Khan calls out to the businessmen saying that West Bengal has the required infrastructure, surplus electricity unlike other states and has highly skilled labour available at a very cheap price.
The participants of this trade, however, have a different story to tell.
“We hardly made any business. We have been called from so far away but were not given strategically favourable position. Our stall is far away from the main entrance and we are getting very few shoppers” says the owner of a Pakistani garment stall.
A young Afghani shop owner echoed the same concern. He is selling carpets and accessories brought over from Afghanistan. He complained of lack of genuine buyers and extensive marketing of the event in the city. Delhi, Mumbai, Punjab are more lucrative destinations for these traders, says the Afghan stall owner.
A trader at a saree stall inside the Bangladesh Pavilion complained of basic infrastructural problems, transportation problems. Better and extensive marketing of the event should have been done and only 4 to 5 shops should have been allowed as opposed to so many, lamented the participant.
Most of them are unanimously worried about their unsold products and have no clue about what to do with them. They complained of paying huge sum to the customs to bring over their products but now due to lack of customers most of their products remain unsold.
The food court, however, has a different story to tell. The stalls at the food court remain overcrowded till the end and have generated substantial revenue.
A trader at the stall selling Bangladeshi cuisine says that they are extremely happy with the arrangements and have received excellent response from the customers here. They plan to come back every year.
‘Elish Biriyani’ remains the highest selling product of the stall. “Every day we get Elish fish from Bangladesh and the dish is prepared everyday by a separate unit here every day” says the trader.
Mughal’s Cuisine, the stall selling Pakistani cuisine, has similar response from the crowd here. They have done very good business and the stall remains crowded with customers from opening till closing time. “Food is capable of binding the people of India and Pakistan” says Mohammad Gyazzuddin, the chef from Karachi.