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Bharat Bandh today: Why are trade and transport associations protesting

Around 40,000 trade associations in the country are observing an all-India commercial and transport trade strike on Friday in view of rising fuel prices, glitches in the new e-way bill system and “draconian, arbitrary and critical” amendments in GST rules.Many commercial markets across the country have not opened today in view of the ‘Bharat Vyapar Bandh’ called by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT). Visuals from various parts of the country show that commercial markets in many prominent areas are closed today.

CAIT secretary-general Praveen Khandelwal had said that not just traders but small industries, hawkers and women entrepreneurs will also join today’s strike. Crores of traders who are part of various trade organisations have extended support.

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Not just commercial markets, but road transport services are also likely to be lower due to the bandh. It may be noted that the All India Transport Welfare Association (AITWA), which an apex body representing one crore transporters, has extended support to the strike.

The organisation had also announced that the transport sector across the nation will observe a “chakka jam” today.GST, fuel prices and e-way bill glitches
Several traders and transport associations across the country are observing the ‘Bharat Vyapar Bandh’ today in view of the sharp rise in fuel prices across the country. They also want the recent changes in the e-way bill system to be either modified or scrapped completely.

It may be noted the e-way bill system, introduced in April 2018, is a document that has to be filled up by both traders and transporters while intrastate and interstate movement of goods. However, the problem is related to a recent amendment that has narrowed the validity of an e-way bill by increasing the distance required to be covered from 100 kilometres to 200 kilometres per day.Both CAIT and AITWA have expressed concern about certain rules that have been included under the e-way-bill system. The trade and transport associations said that the e-way bill system has made their job much harder and added that it is impractical.

Another reason behind the protest is the sharp rise in petrol and diesel rates across the country. Transporters and traders claim that the fuel price hike in India has affected their operations severely. It is worth mentioning that petrol and diesel prices have increased sharply due to the high rate of taxes levied by the Centre and states.Meanwhile, traders are also protesting against the GST rules, citing the multiple tax slabs that the government had promised to rationalise over time. The traders have also cited complications in the GST filing process. The CAIT said that traders are seeking rationalisation of rules under the GST system to help small traders.



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