Six days after a notification suspended mobile internet and data, the services were restored in Vadodara and adjoining areas on Monday evening, albeit, erratically while Ahmedabad residents will have to wait till Monday midnight.
On the delay in restoring services in Ahmedabad, the district collector Rajkumar Beniwal said, “Certainly the services have been restored everywhere else but owing to the sensitivity prevailing in Ahmedabad, the decision to restore these by midnight tonight has been taken jointly by the police department.”
The decision to restore the services in Ahmedabad was taken in a joint meeting between officials of both police and collectorate held late in the evening.
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The services, said Vadodara police officials, were restored after the government notification effecting ban until Monday was reviewed. As mobile data, 3G and 2G internet services were restored, on Monday evening, businesses, individuals and public departments heaved a sigh of relief. The six day black out on internet services has meant a huge loss for most companies relying on the internet for their daily operations.
Meanwhile, since Monday was the last day to file income tax returns for the financial year 2014-15, residents were seen bearing the brunt of this suspension.
While the senior Income Tax officials at its state headquarters in Ahmedabad denied any proposal to extend the deadline beyond August 30 in the wake of this suspension in the state.
On the other side, special arrangements were made in Vadodara to facilitate the filing of returns as the department witnessed a huge rush of salaried and professional tax payers turning up at the counters to manually pay tax.
Rani Singh Nair chief commissioner of Income Tax (CCIT)-II at Ahmedabad said, “So far, no proposal for extension of deadline has been mooted since the department has not received any request from the tax bar association or the commissioner.”
In Vadodara, officials of the IT Department said, six additional special counters were opened to handle the rush of tax payers stranded without internet services.
“Several professionals and salaried persons filed their income tax returns at the counter today, as it was the last day. Most of these people complained that they had to take a day off from work to physically arrive at the Income Tax department, instead of filing simple e-returns online. We had anticipated this kind of rush as senior officials who were coordinating with the state government were instructed to facilitate the filing of income tax at the department itself,” an official said.
Another official added that the department had received complaints from the Vadodara Tax Bar association and the Vadodara Chamber of Commerce and Industries (VCCI) about being unable to file their income tax returns online due to the suspension of the internet services.
“We have received complaints from several industries as well as VCCI to extend the dates for the income tax filing as a special case due to the suspension of internet networks in the state, but we are unable to make such exceptions as filing of income tax is a centralized policy for the country and the dates are decided accordingly. No decision could be made for an extension,” a senior IT official said.
A senior executive from a pharmaceutical company in Vadodara said, “Our operations subsist on internet networks that help us keep track of our medical representatives visiting doctors in various circles across the state. We schedule the visits and even the delivery of products through integrated software working on internet data. Since our company is located on the outskirts, with no connectivity to reliable broadbands, we have a 3G network connection platform for our complete enterprise solutions. The suspension of the network has meant a huge loss for our business that was highly impacted.”
Another businessman, who is also a member of the Federation of Gujarat Industries (FGI) said his foreign collaborations had been curious about the unrest in the state and expressed apprehension at investing in a new project.
The businessman said, “It was an embarrassing situation as my collaboration read about the news of the internet in Gujarat being snapped due to political unrest. They were anxious about investing here and wanted to know the gravity of the situation that demanded internet services to be suspended for such a long period.”
Most industrial chambers and business establishments, police officers admitted, were pressurizing the government to restore data networks. “The representations made by various industries and businesses to the Commissioner of Police have also insisted that the regular suspensions of the internet networks are denting the image of the state as a business friendly destination.
We are certainly looking at options to bring down only those websites that facilitate rumor mongering, instead of paralysing networks. It will be taken up with the home department too,” a senior police officer in Vadodara said.