Skip to main content

Gandhi’s Gujarat retaliates, forms Namak Satyagraha Samiti to fight government move to impose salt tax

By Pankti Jog*
A Namak Satyagraha Samiti has been formed in Gujarat, consisting of agariyas (traditional salt farmers), salt manufacturers and traders, to fight the “unjust” state notification to impose five per cent value added tax (VAT) on salt.
Apart from the recently added VAT, the Government of India and the state government are charging cess and royalty on salt, respectively.
Already, the Namak Satyagraha Samiti has made several representations. It now plans voluntary shutdown of salt trading in the entire state as a mark of protest against the state government move.
The Indian Salt manufacturers Association and the Rajasthan Salt Refinery Association have extended their support to the Samiti’s fight.
The decision to impose five per cent VAT on salt reminds one of the Britishers, who levied a heavy tax on salt. Mahatma Gandhi took out his historic Dandi March, Namak Satyagrah, in 1930, which played a key role in the Independence movement.
Gandhiji ensured abolition of tax on salt, giving a strong message to the British Empire that common people of this country are going to fight for their freedom in a non-violence manner.
Gujarat produces 176 lakh tonnes of salt per year, which constitutes over 73 per cent of India’s total salt production. Basically, salt is produced in the Little Rann of Kutch, which is termed as inland salt, and all along the coast of Gujarat, which is known as marine salt.
Salt farming is 600 years old livelihood occupation of backward communities of Gujarat. Every year, thousands of families migrate from more than 10 districts to salt farming areas for eight months, to make their livelihood.
Salt is an essential commodity, used for human consumption, dairy, preservation, leather processing, bakery, chemical and soda ash, and many other industries. Yet, the state government decided to tax salt.
Surprisingly, the government states, the step is meant to bring salt production under its wings. It means, the government expects that every salt farmer from the Little Rann of Kutch to register and take a VAT number, complete online procedure for the salt that she/he sells to the trader.
The Agariya Heetrakshak Manch, an organization of traditional salt farmers of Gujarat, having thousands Agariya of members in eight districts of Gujarat, has issues a statement that this step show how the government is least concerned towards community.
It believes, the step would adversely affect the entire salt industry, including agariyas.
Harinesh Pandya, trustee of the Manch, said, “Salt is produced at the salt farm, and is not distinguished whether it is going to bakery, or to home consumption. The government’s approach of levying tax salt is very impractical and it is not possible for the agariyas to keep the accounts related to VAT.”
He underlined, “Traditional salt farmers of the state are neither given user rights on the land they cultivate to produce salt, nor do they have access to the formal credit. And now the government has imposed tax to make life of the agariyas worse than hell”.
“The agariyas of Gujarat oppose this move of the government and if needed will fight this out in by launching a Gandhian non-violent satyagrah”, he added.
No other state of India has imposed tax on salt. This tax will add on the cost of salt, making the commodity costlier than the neighboring state, Rajasthan.
In the mission 2020 for salt, the Government of India announced the ambitious plan to beat China and become the second major salt producer in the world. Yet, it is completely silent on the user rights of salt farmers over land, access to formal credit, to solar technology, and to basic facilities of water supply, public distribution system supply, health services etc.
---
*Agariya Heetrakshak Manch

Comments

TRENDING

'Wedding of the century': What does Mukesh Ambani want to prove by such extravaganza?

By NS Venkataraman*  Mukesh  Ambani,   a renowned Indian industrialist who is said to be the richest person in India and  one of the richest persons in the world,   has just now conducted the wedding celebration of  his son in Mumbai,   with unheard level of lavishness in India.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

'28% rise in sedition cases': Top global NGO alliance rates India's civil space 'repressed'

By Rajiv Shah Rating India's civic space as repressed , Civicus, a global civil society alliance, in its new report submitted to the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) on the state of civic space in the country has said that the use of sedition law against the Modi government’s critics continues. "Under the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sedition cases have increased by 28 per cent with over 500 cases against more than 7,000 people", it says.

'Modi govt's assault on dissent': Foreign funds of top finance NGO blocked

By Rajiv Shah  In a surprise move, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, has cancelled the foreign funding license of the well-known advocacy group, Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), known for critically examining India's finance and banking sectors from human rights and environmental angle.

How US is using Tibetans to provoke conflict with China 'ignoring' India

By Lobsang Tenzin*  On July 12, US President Joe Biden signed the Resolve Tibet Act, and Tibetans cheered for it, believing that the law promotes a resolution of the dispute between Tibet and China. Is this true? First, let's look at the issue of the ownership of Tibet. 

How embracing diversity enriched my life, brought profound sense of joy

By Mike Ghouse*  If you can shed the bias towards others, you'll love the connections with every human that God or his systems have created. This gives a sense of freedom and brings meaning and joy to life. Embracing and respecting how people dress, eat, and practice their beliefs becomes an enriching experience.

Post-poll mob lynching spree, bulldozer justice: NAPM seeks united resistance

Counterview Desk  Condemning what it calls "the horrific spree of mob lynchings across the country after the Lok Sabha election results", India's premier civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), has called for "united resistance" against "hateful communal politics, mob lynching of religious minorities and caste-based oppression".

Maharashtra govt's proposed bill may be used against 'dissenting' journalists, writers, filmmakers, artists

Counterview Desk  The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Maharashtra, strongly objecting to what it calls “repressive and unconstitutional” Maharashtra Special Public Security Bill 2024, has demanded the proposed law be scrapped in its entirety. In its Statement of Objects and Reasons for the Bill, PUCL noted,  the broad and non-descript label of ‘urban naxal’ has been used, which is actually a “common slur used for any citizen who expresses their opposition to state policy or is not aligned with right-wing majoritarian views."