Indefinite bandh creates problems for Punekars

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DNAIndia: Citizens are going to be at the receiving end in the dispute between the traders and the state government over local body tax (LBT). From Monday, wholesale and retail traders in the city will be going on indefinite strike to oppose imposition of LBT. Traders’ associations have claimed that all shops in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad will be shut indefinitely and only vegetables, milk and medicines will be available.

After the state government issued the order for imposition of LBT, the PMC decided to replace octroi with LBT and in spite of strong opposition from traders, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) made it clear that they would be collecting LBT from April 1.

Opposing the decision by the municipal corporations, the federation of traders’ associations in Pune has given a call for indefinite strike from Monday. The federation includes 30 traders’ associations including the Pune Merchants’ Chamber, grocery shop owners, plastic and iron traders.

Ajit Setiya, president of Pune Merchants’ Chamber said, “Last time when we had observed a one-day token strike in March, we had not included retailers in the strike. But since the government has not paid attention to our demands, we have decided to intensify our strike. This time, along with wholesale traders, retail traders will be participating in the indefinite strike. Associations of general stores and grocery shops have extended their support for our bandh and they will be shutting their shops.” 

Apart from the food grain market, jewellery shops, iron and steel material shops will remain closed till the strike is called off.

However, the traders have made it clear that vegetables, milk and medicines will be available in the market. Santosh Kothari, a wholesale food grain trader in Market Yard said, “We will be observing a total bandh during the strike, but essential commodities like vegetables, milk and medicines will be available for consumers.”

The Pune Petrol Dealers Association (PPDA) has announced that nearly 350 petrol pumps in the district will be shut on Monday to oppose the implementation of LBT.

While general stores in the city will be closed, the shopping mall managements have not decided whether to participate in the bandh. Somnath Kamble, manager of Ozone mall in Aundh said, “There is speculation about the strike, but we have not taken any decision on participating in the strike. If the associations decide to participate in the strike, we will keep the mall shut.”

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