Autorickshaw drivers, street vendors and employees of five municipal corporations in the state, including Mumbai, have threatened to go on an indefinite strike in protest of the introduction of the Local Body Tax (LBT) system.
In accordance with state government directives, LBT will replace the existing octroi system in Nagpur, Thane, Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad from April 1. The system will be put in practice in Mumbai from October 1.
Calling the change the “biggest scandal by the ruling Congress government”, labour union leader Sharad Rao threatened to approach the Bombay high court this week in addition to organising protest marches and demonstrations across the state.
“The chief minister had no time to discuss the issue of octroi and LBT with union representatives. The implementation of LBT will only fuel more corruption and reduce the overall revenue generated by the BMC by more than four thousand crores,” said Rao, while addressing the press on Tuesday.
The Kamgar Karmachari Sanghatana Federation has decided to organise massive protests, demonstrations and meetings in major cities across Maharashtra, starting March 25. The federation has also decided to undertake house-to-house campaigns against the chief minister as part of their ‘save civic services and save development’ initiative.
The business community has been demanding the removal of octroi because it has led to delay in transportation of goods and large-scale corruption. The unions, however, said octroi is the biggest source of revenue for the civic body and abolishing it would mean reducing the income of the municipal corporations. It could also lead to a reduction in workforce if the civic bodies fail to generate enough revenue, they fear.