New Delhi: Lok Sabha MP (BJD) from Kandhamal Dr Achyuta Samanta on Wednesday demanded the Centre and the GST Council Chairperson to withdraw GST from Kendu leaves, saying the imposition of such tax is affecting the trade and livelihood of eight lakh pluckers.
Dr Samanta raised the issue during the Zero Hour in the Lower House, the first day of the Winter Session of the Parliament.
“I on behalf of my party Biju Janata Dal urge the Centre, particularly the Hon’ble Finance Minister to withdraw GST on Kendu leaves in the greater interest of the livelihood of the lakhs of Kendu leaf pluckers and associated staff,” he said, adding this was a “sweet” request before the Chairperson of the GST Council from the thousands of poor Kendu leaf pluckers of Odisha.
Dr Samanta said the 18 percent GST is not only affecting the livelihood of the Kenduleaf pluckers but also the implementation of the social security and welfare schemes meant for them.
Kendu leaves, a minor forest produce, are the financial backbone of about 8 lakh Kendu leaf pluckers, binders and seasonal workers of Odisha and mostly belong to the tribal community and poorest of the poor. The tribal people collect the leaves as part of their rights defined under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. They have the right to procure and sell these products, he said in his submission before the House.
Earlier in November, Odisha Chief Minister and BJD President Naveen Patnaik demanded the abolition of GST on Kendu leaves in the interest of the livelihoods of the Kendu leaf workers. The State Government has also announced a special package for them.