Worried about the state government's tough stand regarding industrialists, several leaders of the Small Scale Industry Association of Mandi Gobindgarh met Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MP Bhagwant Mann here on Monday and requested him to join their protest.
In the hour long meeting, the president of the Small Scale Re-Rollers Mills Association, Mandi Gobindgarh, Rajiv Sood alleged that due to the step-motherly treatment by the state government, industrialists were being forced to shut their units. He requested the MP to raise their demands with the state and central government.
Manmohan Singh Mangat, president of Bhav Nagar Association Trader's Union who was also present at the meeting said, "We met Bhagwant Mann to request him to raise our demands as for the past five days, we are protesting against the government's faulty system of tax collection, but nobody is ready to listen to our grievances." He added, "We are ready to pay the tax but the government should monitor the monopoly of officials involved in tax collection who charge a hefty amount from us by stopping our truck at nakas."
Mangat said sometimes, the industrialists were told to pay more than 30% tax of the value of goods being carried in the truck.
Due to the faulty system of the state government, about 50% industrialists in Mandi Gobindgarh have already shut their units and others are looking to shift their units as banks are forcing them to pay their debts, he added.
When asked why the industrialists did not take their demand to local MP Harinder Singh Khalsa who also represents AAP, he said, "We need a sensitive politician who can understand our demands. Despite being a local, Khalsa has not come out in our support yet."
Another industrialist added the group was ready to pay the tax as per norms and even more, but the government should keep a check on its employees.
When contacted, Bhagwant Mann said, "It is ironic that neither the ruling nor the opposition party in the state assembly has time to listen to the genuine demands of the industrialists and they are approaching me for support."
He added he had assured the industrialists he would raise their demands with the state and union governments and would join their protest in Mandi-Gobindgarh on September 24.
He said,"I will also request the deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal to save the industrialists of Punjab instead of inviting industrialists of other states who will come only if the state creates an environment which is conducive for them."