Nagpur News: The district administration finally appears to be waking up from its slumber and is contemplating action against traders if they continue bandh against Local Body Tax (LBT) which has become a major problem for city residents. The administration is preparing to impose the Essential Services Maintenance Act if the bandh goes on any longer. However the traders are least bothered about the warning as they questioned the legality of imposing ESMA under prevailing situation.
District collector Saurabh Rao informed, traders have warned that if the bandh continued any further action would be taken under ESMA. He also informed that a meeting in this regard was called by the divisional commissioner as well.
During the meeting traders said they had joined the protest on an appeal by the Nag Vidarbha Chamber of Commerce. Given this the district administration should discuss the matter with office bearers of the chamber.
Dipen Agrawal, President, Nag Vidarbha Chamber of Commerce told Nagpur Today that ESMA can be invoked in case there is any shortage of food grains or any other necessary edible items. But as of now, the situation is far from any such crisis. Malls are open and even small retailers in most of the residential colonies are maintaining the supply. “If there is any shortage then the Collector has right to get the shops forcibly opened under ESMA. Forget about shortage there is no price rise even. So what’s the legality of imposing ESMA under such situation? The law makers only misuse the law and this is what we are fighting against,” he added. He said that the recent warning to impose ESMA is just a ploy to disrupt the traders’ agitation.
It may be noted here that the bandh called by traders’ organisations against LBT has entered its 11th consecutive day and is becoming more and more problematic for citizens. Moreover, wholesellers have stopped trade completely, as a result of which supply of grains is being severely affected. What is surprising is that grain traders have joined the protest despite the fact that LBT would not be levied on food products. Apart from people form the city, residents of rural areas, are also being affected. The district administration is now taking stalk of the difficulties being faced by citizens.
A meeting of the district collector and municipal commissioner was held at the office of commissioner of police. Officials reviewed the impact of the band on the city and people at large. After this a meeting of grain traders was held. A detailed discussion on the issues was held which lasted for almost one-and-a-half hours.
Rao said that a meeting with office bearers of the chamber was postponed due to another meeting held in Mumbai. Once the office bearers return to the city on Friday the issue would be discussed with them. Rao also clearly stated the district administration can not withdraw LBT but can only carry message of the traders to State government.
Rao has made an appeal to traders to avoid causing problems to citizens and to protest in a democratic manner. He also said that if there was news of violence during the agitation, no permission for demonstrations would be given hence forth.