Day 5 of traders strike Demand for scrapping policy abandoned.
A day after a panel appointed by the state government made it clear that the Local Body Tax (LBT) that kicked off this fiscal will stay,traders agitating against the new tax regime continued their indefinite strike but modified the demand from scrapping of LBT to postponing implementation to October 1.
The strike entered the fifth day on Friday,and citizens continued to reel under disruption of daily supply of essential commodities. The traders have been agitating since April 1,when LBT replaced Octroi. The government had set up a two-member panel to look into the LBT issue and submitted its report to the government.
On Thursday,the panel members tried to convince traders to call of the strike and made it clear LBT will not be scrapped. The traders decided to continue the strike,this time demanding postponement of LBT implementation and exclusion of small traders from the LBT ambit.
The Pune Municipal Corporation and the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation had implemented LBT from April 1 after abolishing octroi. The traders had then started the agitation,despite a Bombay High Court earlier rejecting their plea that LBT regime be not implemented.
We have met the chief minister and we think he is sympathetic to the issues we have raised. Ramnath Sonawane (the mediating committee member) doesnt have any authority. The CM can stay the implementation with an order and we are hopeful that he will take the right decision, said Popatwal Ostwal,president of the Federation of Trade Associations of Pune.
Meanwhile,the civic administration pressed ahead with LBT. The civic staff is busy registering traders who have submitted their applications. The survey of businesses in the city will start soon, said a civic officer.
The Youth Congress city unit has urged traders to call off the strike as it was inconveniencing citizens. The traders should try to get the support of citizens instead of inviting their criticism, said Chandrashekhar Nimhan,president of Youth Congress city unit.
Traders take out massive rallies,dimming sound of wedding bells; shopping takes a hit
People getting ready for weddings on April 27 and April 29,considered auspicious,are at their wits end. Tushar Jagtap,whose sisters wedding is on April 27,is in fix as the trousseau has not been purchased.
We completed shopping for sarees to be gifted to relatives and decided to buy the trousseau this week. Because of the strike,we have no idea on how to go about it, he said. Gold jewellery of the bride is also stuck.
The jewellery delivered to us was of wrong design. We asked the goldsmith to redesign it. Ever since the strike began,the goldsmith has not been picking up our calls. We have invested a lot of money and have no idea what to do, he said. Pradeep Pawars sons wedding is on April 29. Our shopping is over but cards were supposed to be delivered in the first week of April. The bandh stopped that and the shopowner refuses to hand over the cards. The wedding hall is booked,and if we do not get the cards on time,we would not be able to distribute them, he said.
Recovery of stolen gold thwarted
The strike has thwarted investigation to recover stolen gold suspected to have been sold by three arrested suspects to some jewellers in the city,the Crime Branch of police on Friday informed a magistrate court.
Police had on on March 27 arrested suspects Rupesh Kachi,Zuber alias Samir Khan,and Manoj alias Manya Bhavsar for theft at a house in Tuljabhavani Nagar in Bibvewadi.
The police had recovered valuables worth Rs 9,000 they had allegedly stolen from the house.
Following further investigations,it was allegedly revealed that they were involved in eight other thefts and the booty was worth Rs 4.3 lakh.
Police told the court that they had confessed to having sold stolen ornaments to some jewellers but the strike had come in the way of investigations.
The court has extended police custody of the suspects to April 6.
Railway passengers scout for food
Private food suppliers are unable to provide food on trains passing through the city. Several trains that do not have pantry cars halt in the city. Passengers have been frequenting the kitchen at the station and restaurants Krishna and Comesum.
These restaurants have a foodgrain stock that can last three to four days. As the strike entered the fifth day,restaurants are struggling to supply food, said a railway official.
One of the restaurants exhausted fruit jam and could not offer sandwiches to be supplied on the Shatabdi Express. Jam was later brought from Mumbai,says a manager at the store,refusing to be quoted. If the strike continues for two to three more days the situation will worsen,he added.
Pune Division PRO Y K Singh said food was supplied from the railway kitchen to three other trains. So far,they had not faced any problem as the grocery supply has been outsourced to private suppliers,he said.
Hospitals running out of stock,stationery
Authorities at the government-run Sassoon General hospital say they have grains,pulses and other stock to last another 10 days but at private hospitals supply is fast getting exhausted. They are running out of office stationery as well.
We need hospital specific papers and other material for documentation, Dr Sujata Malik,Medical Director at Ruby Hall Clinic,said. Dr D G Kulkarni,Medical Superintendent at B J Medical College and Sassoon General hospital said,their stocks could last another 10 days
University canteens run out of Food
Chief rector at the University of Pune,B R Shejwal,said the refectory and canteens on campus could face shortage of foodgrain and other essential goods if the strike continues.
Our refectory and canteens are about to exhaust stock. The situation could worsen if the strike goes on, he said. More than 800 students rely on food available on campus.
Consumer rights body starts to get calls
Vijay Sagar of the Akhil Bharatiya Grahak Sanghatana said they have been receiving calls from people facing difficulties.
Peoples gold and money are struck and they have been calling us for help. We have asked them to meet us so that we could take up their cases with the consumer forum, he said.