After it, it may now be the turn of the organised retail sector to do business on a 24 X 7 schedule.
At a seminar on `Retail 2004: Unlimited Opportunities' organised by CII (Eastern Region) here on Wednesday, industry captains pleaded for industry status and an uninterrupted work schedule for the organised retail sector.
The West Bengal Municipal Affairs and Urban Development Minister, Mr Ashok Bhattacharya, said, "The Government will sincerely consider giving industry status to the organised retail sector and allow it to function round the clock."
Appreciating the role of the retail sector in the State's economy, the minister said that the Government was working on all-round improvement of logistics to ensure the sector's growth.
"We are opening a new logistics hub at Kona shortly," he said.
Referring to the State Government's achievements in land reforms and the consequent distribution of money across the economy, he said that unlike many other States, growth of the retail segment had not been restricted to the cities in West Bengal.
"The village economy in Bengal transacted over Rs 19,000 crore during the last fiscal alone. Naturally, we are witnessing unprecedented growth of the retail sector and the opening up of new commercial centres in the districts," he said.
Earlier, Mr Sanjiv Goenka, former President of the CII and Vice-Chairman of RPG Enterprises, said that modernisation of the organised retail sector deserved Government attention and should immediately be declared an industry.
"There is an immediate need to update the Acts governing the retail sector."
Mr Kishore Biyani, Chief Knowledge Officer of Pantaloon Retail India Ltd, stressed that the organised retail sector was still in its infancy in India. Out the retail market worth Rs 90,000 crore, the organised sector controls only Rs 20,000 crore," he said.
Mr Kurush Grant, Division Chief Executive of ITC Ltd, said that over the last five years the unorganised retail sector, popularly described as the `kirana sector', had witnessed an unprecedented boom.
The Kolkata-based RPG Enterprises plans to open four `hyper markets' in the city at an investment of Rs 100 crore. On the sidelines of `Retail 2004', Mr Goenka said that locations for two such hyper markets covering 40,000 sq. ft. to 80,000 sq. ft. each had been identified and would be opened soon.
"We are yet to finalise the other two."
The group currently has two such malls in other parts of the country.