Posted On Friday, April 05, 2013 at 09:25:51 AM
On the fourth day of the traders’ indefinite strike opposing the imposition of Local Body Tax (LBT), there is no sign of a détente between the traders and the State government.
A two-member committee met with the protesting members, but no avail. Political parties have now demanded action against these traders under the Essential Service Maintenance Act (ESMA), 1968.
On Wednesday, prominent traders from the city met Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan in Mumbai, requesting abolition of LBT. Chavan ordered that a two-member committee be sent to Pune to break the ice.
This committee comprised Kalyan Dombivli municipal commissioner R K Sonawane and deputy municipal commissioner (Cess) of Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) Sudhir Cheke.
They met traders at the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) headquarters. Municipal Commissioner Mahesh Pathak, joint municipal commissioner (LBT) Vilas Kanade, Member of Legislative Council Mohan Joshi were present at the meeting which lasted for five hours. The traders asked for a written assurance that their demands would be met.
Sonawane responded to the traders, saying, “We won’t abolish LBT or bring back octroi at any cost. Do not hold the common man to ransom over your demands.
We will submit our report to the chief secretary and the State government will take a final decision. We don’t have the power to give any written assurance.”
Pathak said, “We have conveyed the traders’ demands to the State government. Initially, they had put forth 37 demands which came down to 25 and now they amount to 17. The traders want reduction in fine and that LBT officials’ rights of checking their records to be revoked. I am appealing to the traders to call back the strike.”
Meanwhile, the Republican Party of India (RPI-Athavale) has demanded that the protesting traders be arrested under ESMA for calling an indefinite strike. Dr Siddharth Dhende, party leader, said, “The common man is suffering for four days now. Traders have shut shop and are holding the citizens to ransom. To stop selling essential commodities is against
our constitution’s provisions. Therefore, the State government should take tough action against the protesters. If the government and traders fail to take appropriate steps, the party will start an agitation on behalf of the common man.”
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has also supported RPI and decided to take part in the agitation.