Tradersí protest gains momentum

OfficeTraders took out several rallies that converged at the district collectorís office.

Agitation hits the streets; Chief Secy calls high-level meeting today.

Traders in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad pumped up the volume of their protest against the state government's decision to implement Local Body Tax (LBT) in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad on the seventh day of their indefinite strike on Tuesday.

Traders had expected a meeting with the government on Tuesday, which did not take place. However, Chief Secretary Jayantkumar Banthia has called for a high-level meeting on Wednesday to resolve the issue with the traders.

On Tuesday, the Pune Merchant Chambers wrote to district collector Vikas Deshmukh, expressing their desire to surrender their trade licences as well as their stock of grains to the government. The letter was in response to the more than 700 notices served by the district collector on May 9 on traders, asking the district adminstration to ensure proper supply of essential commodities in the twin cities.

A delegation of traders from both Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad, led by the Shiv Sena MP Gajanan Babar, had met the collector to submit their replies. Ajit Sethiya, president of Pune Merchant Chamber, said that they are firm on their stand for the rollback of the LBT, which according to them, would be detrimental to their business.

Collector Vikas Deshmukh, while addressing the media later, said that although they have written about submitting their licences, they have not actually submitted them. "In case they physically submit their licences, we would take possession of their stock of grain and auction it," he said.

Deshmukh said that the district authorities are also thinking of holding a Grains Festival in order to alleviate the shortage of grains in the city. "We would be contacting the farmers who participated in the recently held government grains festival and ask them to sell their wares at a designated areas. This would allow customers to gain direct access to the grains," he said.

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