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Anti-VAT trade bandh evokes mixed response
March 31, 2003 16:13 IST
The nation-wide two-day bandh by traders against introduction of the much-touted value added tax evoked a mixed response on its opening day on Monday affecting commercial activities to a great extent.
The "Bharat Bandh" was claimed to have been an overwhelming success in the major commercial centre Delhi and some Northern states but "moderate" and "partial" in industrially advanced states like Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.
Essential services including those in health and transport sectors were, however, kept out of the purview of the bandh, called by Bharat Udyog Vyapar Mandal and Confederation of All India Traders.
"Lakhs of traders belonging to more than 5000 trade organisations all over the country kept their shutters closed, registering strong protest and anguish over the proposed VAT", CAIT General Secretary Praveen Khandelwal said.
In Delhi, all wholesale and retail markets remained closed paralysing commercial activities as over 300 trade bodies in the city participated in the 48-hour bandh, he said.
Markets in Chandni Chowk, Khari Baoli, Naya bazar, Naraina, Kashmere Gate, Sadar Bazar, Connaugut Place, Chawri Bazar observed "complete" bandh, he said.
In West Bengal, shops in Kolkata and other towns downed their shutters protesting the proposed new tax regime, while petrol pumps, medicine shops and liquor outlets remained open.
Traders in Maharashtra claimed that ten lakh members belonging to wholesale and retail trade responded to the bandh against the decision to implement VAT from Tuesday. Dry fruit merchants and garment dealers also participated in the the bandh.
In Gujarat, response to the bandh call was 'moderate'.
While most shops and commercial establishments in Ahmedabad remained open during morning hours, traders began to down the shutters slowly.
The protest against VAT in Punjab and Haryana received mixed response with trading and commercial activities getting affected partially in the two neighbouring states.
Shops in main markets in various cities were closed while in interior areas they remained open.
A Chandigarh report said traders organised rallies in several places and shouted anti-Government slogans.
In Tamil Nadu, the bandh call evoked partial response with most petroleum outlets, medical shops, liqiuor retail outlets and petty shops reportedly functioning normally.
However, many of the provision stores and grocery shops downed their shutters in several parts of the state.
Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangagalin Peravai claimed the strike was a success though some other trade bodies like Tamizhaga All Chambers of Commerce and Trade Associations, Tamil Nadu Rice Mill Owners Association and Paddy Dealers Aassociation disassociated themselves from the strike.
A Coimbatore report said over 70 per cent of traders closed their shops in the district, but there was poor response to the call in neighbouring Erode district, where 80 to 90 per cent shops remained open.
A Thiruvananthapuram report said the strike call evoked a partial response in Kerala. A section of shoppers downed shutters in urban centres but the protest evoked little response in rural areas.
In Jammu, the bandh was reported to be "complete". Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industries said the Government should first introduce VAT in metros and big commercial cities before implementing it elsewhere.
It said neither traders nor consumers are aware of the new tax scheme and its introduction without proper training would hamper commercial activities.
A report from Shimla said that near total bandh was observed by traders in Himachal Pradesh and all shops and commercial establishments downed their shutters, while traders took out processions dubbing VAT as "draconian".
Though medicine stores were exempted from the strike, some chemists pulled down their shutters to express solidarity with other traders.
The bandh was reported to be "total" in Hamirpur, Bilaspur, Kullu, Mandi, Solan, Nahan, Una, Kangra, Dharamsala, Sundernagar, Rampur and other major towns.
In Uttar Pradesh, shops and commercial establishments remained closed in major market places of Lucknow, while the bandh was reportedly complete in other parts of the state.
The strike in Uttaranchal was also reported to be "complete" with all major towns including state capital Dehradun responding fully to the call.
However, the bandh call evoked partial response in Rajasthan. Several shops ine capital Jaipur including the wholesale grain markets remained closed, but those outside the walled city areas were largely unaffected by the bandh.
Khandelwal said the all India trade bandh will continue on Tuesday.
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