Hyderabad: Thousands of general traders, kirana shops and other merchants shutdown shops and their establishments in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to join the ‘Bharat Vyapar Bandh’ called by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) against the rising fuel prices, new E-way bill and several provisions of Goods and Services Tax (GST) law among others on Friday, February 26.
While Left parties, trade unions and transportation workers’ organisations extended their support to the bandh, members of farmers’ organisations participated in the protest demonstrations across the two states.
Several lakhs of lorries, trucks, private buses, taxis, autos and other transportation vehicles are seen parked alongside the roads across highways and main centres in all districts.
In Andhra Pradesh, workers’ organisations held ‘Rasta Rokos’ (Road Blockades) across district head quarters in Vijayawada, Guntur, Visakhapatnam, Kurnool against the central government’s plans to privatise Vizag Steel Plant in Visakhapatnam.
Left parties and workers blocked the road near Ongole bus stand in Prakasam District for an hour while raising slogans with their demands.
Among the demands of the protesters include reduction in fuel prices, prices of daily using commodities and reduction in LPG prices.
Construction workers joined the protest demonstrations in Anantapur district.
In Hyderabad’s Old City, tens of traders and merchants shutdown their units and took out a rally to the Collector’s office and submitted a memorandum highlighting their demands.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) and other left parties backed the bandh and organised a dharna in L B Nagar of Hyderabad.
The traders’ associations are demanding simplification OF GST law while the transport workers are demanding subsidy on fuel prices, scrapping of new e-way bill (permission for inter state and intra state transportation of goods) rules.
Also read: Thousands Join Protest in Vijayawada Against Privatisation of Vizag Steel Plant
As per the new amendments to the electronic way (e-way) billing system, the validity of the bill which falls under the GST regime is now one day for every 200 kms from the previous validity of one day for every 100 kms. Further, a penalty of 200% of the tax value or 100% of the invoice value under Section 129 of CGST Act, 2017 is levied on businesses or transporters in cases of expiry of the e-way bill.
Mahesh Kumar Gupta, general secretary of Hyderabad Kirana merchant association, in a press statement said, “Our demand is simple, the GST process has to be simplified. There are several new clauses and rules which have become harassment both financially and to just process it.”
“At a time when the transportation sector has not recovered from the crisis due to lockdown and the pandemic, the central government is burdening them with continuous spike in fuel price hikes. This is impacting the prices of daily commodities,” said Bhaskar of Telangana Lorry Owners’ Association.
In Andhra Pradesh, the police detained hundreds of members of trade unions and transportation workers who were blocking the roads at different parts of the state.
Pasham Rama Rao of the Centre of India Trade Unions (CITU) in Guntur said that the central government is earning lakhs of crores by taxing common people on petrol and diesel prices. “The central government needs to realise the angst among middle class people and immediately reduce the fuel prices or face continued protests,” he said.