Traders protesting the local body tax (LBT) began a dialogue with the state on Monday, but refused to call off their strike despite being warned of stern action.
A committee headed by chief secretary JK Banthia held its first meeting at Mantralaya, during which trade associations expressed displeasure. “How can we get justice from a committee which has only government officials?” said Mohan Gurnani, president, Federation of Associations of Maharashtra.
Banthia said action can be taken against traders under provisions of the Shops and Establishment Act and the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act, wherein their licences can be suspended or cancelled. The committee will meet again on Wednesday. State urban development department (UDD) has sent letters to municipal corporations, where local body tax (LBT) has been implemented, instructing them not to send their staff to visit premises of traders and industrialists without its permission. The decision was taken after several traders in the Virar-Vasai region complained of harassment by municipal inspectors. Ajay Modi, president, Vasai Industrial Manufacturers’ Welfare Association, said, “Inspectors demand various documents. If we don’t produce the vouchers, they demand Rs3,000-5,000 to accept the assessment.”