While Vashi’s Agricultural Produce and Marketing Committee (APMC) wore a dull look yesterday, the most frustrated at the market seemed to be the transporters who had brought commodities from various states of India. Unaware of the indefinite strike by traders against Local Body Tax (LBT), they said that the latter had refused to unload the commodities, which included rice, dal and pulses. Transporters said that they would suffer major losses if the situation continues to remain the same for even over a day.
No idea about strike
Every day there are hundreds of trucks that are seen entering APMC market in Vashi from various parts of India like Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Nagpur and Tamil Nadu. Yesterday afternoon MiD DAY spoke to a few of the truck drivers who were sitting idle. Many of them had little knowledge about why the traders had refused the commodities.
Suddhar Laxman, one such driver, said, “We have no idea about why traders are on strike. When we reached here on Wednesday morning, we were told that the commodities would not be unloaded. Our concern is that we get paid for the number of trips we make to the market. The strike restricts us to the market, but I doubt our owner would pay us extra.”
A few truck drivers have come together to cook their own meals to avoid spending money at hotels. However, these drivers were worried yesterday, as they had brought with them provisions only for two days. “In case the strike prolongs for more than two days, we would be forced to spend on hotels as our provisions would not suffice,” said Bhagwan Ram, a truck driver from Rajasthan.
Ram, who had brought with him 500 bags of moong dal, further added, “If the strike prolongs we would be affected a lot. We take these trucks on loans and are required to pay the bank certain amount of money every month. But till the time the numerous bags of dal we have brought with us are not unloaded we do not get paid.”
There were a few other drivers who complained on how the summer heat and mosquitoes were taking a toll on them. “We have no place to sleep and hence are spending our time in the truck itself. The nights are bad because of mosquitoes,” said Prakash Bishnoi, who has come from Jodhpur. He said that the traders had informed them that there were chances of them going on strike but that was after they had loaded all the commodities in their trucks.
Grain market joins strike for the first time
The grain market which had so far not shut business to protest against LBT was seen joining in the strike for the first time yesterday. Jayesh Vora, director of the grain market, said, “LBT is not applicable on grains and pulses and therefore so far we were silent. But then we realized that even the 0% LBT, which has been implemented on us, would make it mandatory for us to file a return.
This would mean that paperwork would increase and we would have to employ more staff as well.” The grain market alone has 700 traders, who shut business yesterday. A few of the goods which are exempted from payment of LBT include paddy, rice, wheat and pulses in whole grain, split and broken form, and the flour of wheat and rice.