UP traders'50 hr anti-VAT bandh has mixed response, to continue

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Lucknow, Nov 27 (UNI) The 50-hour-long bandh call given by a section of Uttar Pradesh traders to protest the implementation of Value Added Tax (VAT) regime today evoked a mixed response.

Wholesalers and most of the main markets in the state downed shutters in protest against the implementation of VAT, Reports of obstructing railway and road traffic were also received from different parts of the state. However, in Lucknow the bandh was peaceful and block rail or road traffic was normal.

The Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court had yesterday rapped traders' leader Banwari Lal Kanchal for giving the UP bandh call.

A Division Bench comprising Justices Pradeep Kant and Rajiv Sharma passed this order on a writ petition filed by Sanyukt Vyapar Mandal Association secretary Prem Lal.

The court issued notice to Mr Kanchal seeking an explanation under what law or constitutional right, the call for bandh and 'chakka jam' had been given.

The petitioner had challenged the bandh call, under which shops and business establishments would be closed. Besides, road and train traffic would be disrupted during the bandh.

Directing against chakka jam, the HC observed that medicine shops and emergency services would function as normal, while vehicles will continue to ply.

The Uttar Pradesh Udyog Vyapar Pratinidhi Mandal, a trader organisation affiliated to the Samajwadi Party, had called for a 50 hour 'UP Bandh' beginning this morning. Various traders' body, the opposition Samajwadi Party and the BJP, also supoorted the bandh against VAT -- likely to be implemented from December 1, 2007.

Mandal president and SP Rajya Sabha MP Banwari Lal Kanchal said that they had not violated any norms by holding a peaceful bandh as per democratic norms.

Claiming that 90 per cent of the 25,000 markets in the state support the bandh, Mr Kanchal said due to court's directive they had not stopped the rail or road services while medicines and other essential services were exempted from the bandh perview. ''We had not forced any market or shop to down shutter,'' he further added.

The organisations opposing implementation of VAT said they will not accept the new tax regime in the present form which they termed as ''anti-trader.'' The traders said the government should implement the new VAT system for those traders whose annual business was over Rs 15 lakh.

At present the government has proposed to bring all the traders whose business stood at Rs five lakh yearly under the new regime, probably to be implemented in a phased manner from December 1 next.

''The new VAT system will only bring corruption and harrassment for the traders while the revenue of the government will dip and the consumers have to pay more for their purchase,'' Mr Kanchal alleged.

The organisation had already held a day-long UP bandh on September 11 against the VAT regime.

Mr Kanchal, presented three conditions before the Mayawati government for implemetation of VAT which include that one unified rate should be applicable for VAT in all commodities in the country like it had been done in other countries, waiving of all other taxes like entry tax, development tax and others after implementation of VAT and continuation of compounding system in the existing 22 articles.

Earlier, the activists of the same trader group led by its president held a violent protest in Lucknow and Varanasi on August 22 against the Reliance Fresh retail chain which forced the Mayawati government to order closure of all the outlets in the state over law and order problem.

UNI

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