Transport, trade unions call for ‘Bharat Bandh’; farmers' unions to join
The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has called for a nationwide strike on Friday to protest against the spike in fuel prices and the new e-way bill. They have also demanded a review of the provisions of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). The traders’ body has said that all commercial markets across the country will remain shut following their ‘Bharat Bandh’ call.
The All India Transporters Welfare Association (AITWA) has extended support to the nationwide strike and has said that it will hold a road blockade. Farm unions protesting against the Centre's agricultural laws will also participate in the strike peacefully, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) said in a statement.
Apart from agitating against the rising fuel price, transporters have demanded the scrapping of e-way bill laws. It is the permit that they are required to carry while moving goods from one place to another. Following a recent amendment in the GST laws, the validity of the bill has narrowed and increased to 200km per day from 100km earlier. Penalties for a truck carrying a consignment with an expired e-way bill, or with an erroneous e-way bill amount to 200% of the tax value, or 100% of the invoice value under Section 129 of CGST act, 2017.
The participants will stage sit-in demonstrations in more than 1,500 towns and cities across states. Several services across the country are likely to be affected as more than 40,000 traders' associations are taking part in the bandh. Private transport facilities may also be hit as the AITWA has asked all transport companies to park their vehicles between 6am and 8pm as a mark of protest. Booking and movement of bill-oriented goods will also be hit. Also, as a symbol of protest, no traders will log in to the GST portal.
Chartered accountants and tax advocates’ associations have also backed the strike. Women entrepreneurs, small industries, hawkers, among others, will also join the bandh, CAIT secretary general Praveen Khandelwal has said. Essential services like medical shops, milk, vegetable shops, etc are, however, expected to remain unaffected. Banks are also likely to operate without any disruptions.