Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Cuttack, Apr 8:
The traders at Malgodown, the largest business hub of wholesalers of consumables, in Cuttack city have decided not to join the indefinite stir called by Federation of All Odisha Traders’ Associations (FAOTA) on Thursday demanding abolition of 5 per cent value added tax (VAT) on pulses, wheat and wheat products, though they extend their support to the traders’ body.
“The traders do not intend to lock horns with the state government in the present scenario. Though we support FAOTA’s demand to abolish VAT on pulses, we have unanimously decided not to join the strike in the larger interest of around 800 traders at Malgodown,” senior member of Cuttack Chamber of Commerce, Prashant Kumar Patra said.
A meeting at the Chamber of Commerce office here was held on March 30 in which it was decided that they won’t be joining the strike in view of the ongoing tug of war over encroachment of Railways land by the Malgodown traders. In this crucial juncture where the fate of traders is uncertain, the traders do not want a confrontation with the government, sources said.
The sprawling trade centre spread over 25 acres was served notice by the East Coast Railway (ECoR) to vacate the area by March 31 to facilitate the expansion of the infrastructure at the Cuttack raliway station. However, the Odisha High Court on March 19 granted an interim stay on the eviction notice served on traders.
As per reports, shops in the Malgodown area have encroached upon 80 percent of Railways land and 20 percent of Ravenshaw University premises. Though their 99-year lease expired in 1985-86, the traders were allowed to continue with their businesses in the larger interest of the people.
Notably, over 30 pulses traders had attended the meeting to discuss lending support to the FAOTA call for strike on Thursday.
“Although we have decided not to join the strike as people from various parts of the state depend on the wholesale market for essential commodities, the government should agree to the demands of FAOTA on abolition of VAT on pulses, wheat and wheat products,” Patra said.