Mumbai: Mumbai's bustling markets on Thursday wore an empty, deserted look. Since Monday, over one lakh traders in the city have shut shop to protest against the Local Body Tax (LBT) that the Maharashtra government has introduced to replace octroi. Traders say that the protest has caused a loss of Rs 75,000 crore so far. But they are not backing down yet. With talks with the government failing, they have taken to the streets.
Mohan Gurnani, a representative of the traders' association, said, "We will not stop till the Chief Minister gives in."
Traders say the LBT will increase paperwork and corruption. Government sources say there is time to adjust to the new tax regime, given that the paperwork is only due by the year-end. Meanwhile, the opposition Shiv Sena, the BJP and even the ally, the NCP have asked the government to reconsider the tax. But what do Mumbaikars, many of whom have been affected, have to say?
A resident said, "Not even a biscuit is available and if he does sell it to me, he sells it as if it is a smuggled good." Another, however, said that the strike did not affect him. "Frankly it's not affecting me personally, but I have heard my friends complaining."
As most households have stocked up on essentials in the beginning of the month, the strike has not led to a crisis situation yet. But citizens worry they will run out of supplies if the stand-off continues much longer.