Fed up with the traders’ agitation against the proposed local body tax (LBT) and the state government’s lack of action, consumers activists have decided to approach Bombay high court for relief.
Consumer group Mumbai Grahak Panchayat will file a public interest litigation (PIL) urging the court to direct the state to invoke provisions of the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (Mesma) against the traders.
“How long should we tolerate the inconvenience? We will be moving court to force the government to take action immediately,” said Shirish Deshpande, chairman, Mumbai Grahak Panchayat.
Sitaram Dixit, chairman of Consumer Guidance Society of India, said: “We are the buyers and their source of income, but no one is bothered about us.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Mohan Gurnani, president of Federation of Associations of Maharashtra (FAM), said traders had no option but to shut down trade as the state government was not giving in to their demand to scrap the LBT plan.
Chief secretary Jayant Banthia said many traders’ organisations are in favour of LBT. “We had the second meeting of the committee constituted for deliberation on LBT on Wednesday. Traders’ organisations have submitted their objections. They cited instances of harassment of traders in Vasai-Virar, but these issues can be sorted,” he said.
Banthia said the government wants to resolve the issue through dialogue. “We have told them not to try the patience of the common man. They will come running to us for protection if people get angry and something happens.” “We support LBT over octroi. If traders won’t be harassed, there is no problem,” said Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailer Association of India. Traders are planning to intensify their protest with a jail bharo aandolan on Thursday.