Opposing double tax — GST at the rate of 28 per cent on plywood and 2 per cent local market fee on poplar and eucalyptus (farmers produce) — over a thousand industries in Yamunanagar, known as country’s plywood manufacturing hub and one of Asia’s largest timber markets, began an indefinite strike from Friday. The owners, accompanied by labourers and timber agents (artiyas), blocked National Highway-73 for several hours during the day.
National president of the All India Plywood Manufacturers Association, Devender Chawla, said scores of plywood units in Kaithal, Rohtak and NCR region had also joined the strike apart from a few other states, including Punjab, UP, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand. “How can they impose market fee when it was said there won’t be another tax after the imposition of GST (Goods and Services Tax)?” asked Chawla. He said the Haryana government had agreed to consider their demand for withdrawal of the market fee. “A meeting of the association with the CM has been arranged for Monday to discuss the market fee issue. Meanwhile, the strike will continue,” he said.
All plywood manufacturing units of Yamunanagar and Jagadhri remained closed on Friday as the association had announced to go on an indefinite strike from July 14 to oppose the imposition of GST and market fee.
As the blockade of NH-73 began Friday morning, Deputy Commissioner Rohtash Singh Kharb and Superintendent of Police Rajesh Kalia went to the venue and appealed to protesters to lift the blockade. But protesters refused to relent till they were assured by the CM or any senior elected representative of the government that the 2 per cent market fee would be abolished and GST would be reduced to 18 per cent from 28 per cent at present.
On the request of the Deputy Commissioner, Haryana Assembly Speaker Kanwar Pal Gurjar reached the mini secretariat and held a meeting with representatives of the plywood industry at the DC’s office. The Speaker assured them he would soon arrange a meeting with the CM to discuss their issues. Then, the protesters lifted the dharna.
Chawla said they had called a meeting of the association on July 17 to review the strike in different states and discuss further action. “After paying 28 per cent GST, plywood small-scale industrial units will not survive as their cost has increased by 24 per cent,” he added.