Local body tax protest slows down city on the move

Parts of south and central Mumbai that have old markets and trader associations were the most affected.

Written by Express News Service | Published: April 25, 2013 1:57 am

Traffic moved at a snail’s pace in many parts of the city as over 4,000 traders,retailers and wholesalers took to the streets Wednesday,the second time this week,to protest local body tax (LBT). There were 20-minute jams in some parts.

Parts of south and central Mumbai that have old markets and trader associations were the most affected.

Traffic crawled between Shivaji Park in Dadar and Azad Maidan as nearly 200 cars and motorcycles part of a rally took the Sena Bhawan,Portuguese Church,Siddhivinayak,Century Bazar,Nehru Centre,Haji Ali,Hughes Road,Chowpatty,Marine Drive and Churchgate route.

Vehicles headed towards Nariman Point were diverted below J J Flyover. Traffic on J J Flyover and the arterial road leading to CST was also affected.

“Commuters had to suffer delays of about 20 minutes,but we did not get any report of jams,” said an officer at the traffic police control room.

“Traffic moved slow but we made sure there were no jams,” said S M Jadhav,inspector in charge of Tardeo traffic police chowkie.

Traders had put up a similar show of strength Monday with around 17,000 gathering at Azad Maidan under the aegis of Federation of Associations of Maharashtra. The protest had caused traffic congestion in CST area.

Traders in Navi Mumbai,Thane and Pune also protested.

BMC plans to replace octroi,currently the biggest money spinner,by LBT from October. Traders have been demanding both octroi and LBT be scrapped. While octroi is a tax collected in cash at the time of goods entering a city,LBT is a lump sum charged on value of goods.

“LBT is an additional burden on small retailers and wholesalers. Why is the government stressing on a tax that is not levied in most other major states? Increased burden of taxation will kill business,” said Mahesh Bakhai,general secretary of All India Trader Association and president of Bombay Light & Stove Association.

Traders in the city have put forth several demands,including raising the minimum annual income to Rs 10 lakh,to keep small traders out of LBT ambit.

They have been arguing that LBT will eventually lead to increased costs for the consumer. Worker unions have also expressed disapproval of the new tax.

“This is a death knell for the civic exchequer. If octroi is replaced,it will affect salaries,development work and other projects in the city funded by octroi,” said Sharad Rao,president of Municipal Mazdoor Union.

Service tax: Restaurants to be closed Monday

Hotels and Restaurants Association,Western India (HRAWI),has announced that eateries and restaurants will be participating in a nationwide bandh on April 29 to protest the new service tax levied on restaurants that are fully or partly air-conditioned. Around 10,000-15,000 hotels are expected to take part in this protest. All 5-,4- and 3-star hotels are expected to close down their restaurants. In-house guest rooms and services,however,will remain open.

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