Bhubaneswar: Odisha Government on Saturday urged the Centre to withdraw GST on kendu leaves in greater interest of the livelihood of lakhs of kendu leaf pluckers and associated staff.
In a letter to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik stated that 18% GST on kendu leaves is affecting the trade and livelihood of puckers. The tax needs to be withdrawn for the greater interest of the poor people in Odisha, he said.
“Imposition of GST (18 per cent) on kendu (tendu) leaves is adversely affecting the kendu leaves trade. This in turn affects the livelihoods of kendu leaves, pluckers, binders & seasonal workers and implementation of social security and welfare schemes for them,” the letter read.
In the interest of livelihoods of the kendu leaves dependent community, Patnaik urged the GST Council Chairperson to withdraw the GST imposed on kendu leaves for the greater interest of Odisha, the letter added.
Patnaik further stated that kendu leaves, a minor forest produce (MFP) is the financial backbone of about 8 lakhs kendu leaf pluckers, binders and seasonal workers of Odisha and mostly belonging to the tribal community and poorest of the poor of society.
The tribal people collect the leaves as part of their right defined under 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.
On November 23, Patnaik had announced a bonus of Rs 1,000 for each plucker and Rs 1,500 for each seasonal staff, binders and other associated staff in the first phase.