The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has sent a circular to vendors and shopkeepers at the BMC market outside Jogeshwari (East) station, asking them to pay an additional 12.36 per cent of their rent as service tax.
Lack of electricity means shopkeepers have to steal it to light up their shops. Pics/Nimesh Dave
Vendors are outraged by this demand, as the BMC provides them with no facilities – the market doesn’t even have water or electricity.
According to a circular sent out last month, the vendors have been asked pay their service tax backdated from 2007. Although the rent per shop is Rs 180-300, depending on its size, the cumulative amount from 2007 adds up to Rs 15,000 per shop on an average.
The entire market is in an unkempt, dilapidated condition. No BMC authority has taken the pains to get it repaired
The civic body has pretty much ignored the place, ever since it was built in 1972. Business, however, wasn’t good for more than ten years. There has been no water or electricity for the last five years. None of the vendors know why the supply was cut.
This means the market goes dark in the night, and customers don’t enter, thereby leading to loss of business. BMC has left the market to be operated under streetlights.
On top of this, sewage water enters the market, and raises a stink. Despite having written several letters to the BMC, no action has been taken. With the additional burden of service tax, vendors who sell fruits, vegetables, fish, are angrier than ever.
To be redeveloped?
Mamta Kadam used to sell ice here, but shut her store more than a year back. She said, “With the poor condition of the market, it’s a disaster waiting to happen. We have no water or electricity, and no customers come in. I had to shut shop because I wasn’t earning any money.
Now, the BMC wants us to pay service tax without providing us with any facilities! We will not pay.” Vendors here also are expecting redevelopment, but the plans have not materialised till now, even though the Markets policy was passed over two years ago. No BMC repairmen have entered the market yet.
Authorities from the BMC said the service tax was a central government tax, and not BMC’s doing. Rajesh Katkar, assistant municipal commissioner of the Markets department of BMC, said, “We had given the shopkeepers an idea about the service tax, but they always oppose it at the last moment.
This tax will go to the Central government and not the BMC. We are only collecting it, as the orders came from state government, which in turn got it from the Centre.” When asked about the condition of the market, he said, “The market is under the redevelopment plan of municipal markets in the city. Hence, the repairs were held up. We will decide on this soon.”
Jalendra Kale, onion stall owner
There is a drainage problem in the gutter near my shop. It used to stink and customers didn’t come at all. BMC promised to clean up the gutter, but we are still waiting for some action.
Surendra Gupta, vegetable stall owner
The roof of my shop is in tatters. But since I’m a tenant, I don’t have the authority to get it repaired. I’ve written to the BMC, but they haven’t done anything.
Mamta Kadam, used to sell ice
I had to down the shutters since I wasn’t earning any money from the shop. Now, they’re asking us to pay additional money. We won’t pay up.
No of shops in the market
Avg amount each shopkeeper will have to pay as cumulative service tax from 2007