​Anti-local body tax road rally freezes south Mumbai traffic

Written By Unknown on Kamis, 25 April 2013 | 22.23

Traffic in south Mumbai was paralyzed through the day on Wednesday as traders led a car and motorcycle rally to Azad Maidan to protest against the imposition of local body tax (LBT).

A few hundred businessmen riding cars and motorcycles began heading towards Azad Maidan around 10am and were joined by hundreds more en route. The rally culminated at Azad Maidan around 5pm.

LBT is a tax that is levied as a replacement to octroi and will be implemented in Mumbai on October 1. It has already been introduced in various parts of the state, including Thane and Navi Mumbai.

Traffic snarls were reported near Siddhivinayak temple at Prabhadevi, Century Mills and Podar Hospital, Worli. Movement slowed to a crawl at locations such as Haji Ali, Pedder Road, Kemps Corner, Sukhsagar junction, Girgaum Chowpatty, Sunder Mahal junction and Metro Cinema at Dhobi Talao.

"We diverted motorists from Chowpatty to M K Road," said a traffic police official. "Every area through which protesters passed suffered as jams stretched from one-two km. The snarls peaked between 11am and 2pm," said deputy commissioner (traffic-south) Subhash Nilewad.

"There was a skirmish with the police at Marine Lines due to traffic disruption but the situation was defused by timely intervention," said Arun Doshi, senior vice president, FAM (Federation of Associations of Maharashtra) that organized the rally.

DCP Sanjay Shintre said, "No permission had been granted for the mammoth rally but the task of the police is to prevent escalation of trouble. We used our judgment and decided to allow them to march peacefully rather than risk violence or unruly behaviour. Mumbai is a city of traders, after all."

Meanwhile, BJP promised support for the cause. "Newly anointed state president Devendra Fadnavis lent a shoulder and agreed that the party was against both octroi and LBT," Doshi said.

The agitation will peak on Friday as thousands of businessmen from all parts of Maharashtra will descend upon Azad Maidan for a 'maha morcha' called by FAM. Unlike wholesalers, Retailers Association of India has chosen to not close shop. "We believe LBT is a better method of taxation than octroi," said Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO.

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