The wholesale market at Vashi on Tuesday joined the statewide strike against the state government’s proposal to tax essential commodities and hike the Value Added Tax (VAT) of foodgrains and spices.
The Federation of Associations of Maharashtra (FAM) has called the strike. The traders are demanding that the government withdraw the one per cent hike in VAT rates from the existing four per cent and also exclude essential commodities from its ambit.
The grains and spices market at Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC), which supplies to Mumbai and nearby regions, remained shut for the day. The vegetable and fruits market traders did not join the strike while the onion and potato market was shut to mark the death anniversary of a mathadi (head loaders) leader.
FAM said over six lakh members of 750 wholesale associations across the state have joined the strike. “The strike has been a huge success, with markets all over Maharashtra including Sangli, Kolhapur, Sholapur, Amravati and Pune shutting down in protest,” said Mohan Gurnani, president, FAM.
“This increase in tax will have to be borne by the customers as it will be passed on to them by the traders,” added Gurnani.
The traders said they would intensify their agitation if the hike was not withdrawn. “If the government doesn’t withdraw the hike by March 25, we shall decide on our course of action at a meeting on March 27,” said Sharad Maru, president of Grains, Rice, Oilseeds Merchants Association.