Rahul Gandhi supports scrapping of GST on handlooms
Hyderabad, October 28: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi promised that the GST on handloom products would be scrapped after the Congress party comes to power at the Centre in the next elections. He also assured that all Girijans, cultivating forest lands for decades, would be given ownership rights by implementing the Forest Rights Act, of 2006.
Rahul Gandhi gave these assurances after he had interacted with weavers and Girijans as part of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, which entered 3rd day in Telangana on Friday.
Briefing the media persons after the meetings, Congress MP & former TPCC Chief Capt. N. Uttam Kumar Reddy, along with AICC General Secretary Jairam Ramesh, CLP Leader Bhatti Vikramarka and others, informed that Rahul Gandhi had a detailed interaction with the weavers and Girijans facing the Podu lands issue.
“Rahul Gandhi gave specific assurance to the weavers that 5% of GST on handloom products would be scrapped,” he said.
He pointed out that when the BJP Govt imposed 5% GST on handloom products including Khadi handloom, handicrafts, mats, pots and ploughs, from 1st July 2017, Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao was among the first, even before the BJP Chief Ministers, to ratify GST Act in the Assembly. “When Congress MLAs opposed the GST Act in the House, KCR tried to silence us and did not allow us to speak on the issue. TRS Govt never objected to GST on handlooms since July 2017. Now, in view of the Munugode by-elections, TRS is making a hue and cry on the issue. Rahul Gandhi has assured that the next Congress Govt at the Centre will scrap the GST on handloom products,” he said.
Further, Uttam Kumar Reddy said that Rahul Gandhi was informed about the complete neglect of the Primary Handloom Weavers’ Cooperative Societies (PHWCS) which plays a crucial role in the development of the handloom industry. He said the previous Congress Govt held elections to the 527 PHWCs on February 11, 2013. We kept PHWCS as vibrant and viable bodies. But the present TRS Govt did not conduct fresh elections and it has been extending its term every six months for the last three years, he said.
Rahul Gandhi has also assured the creation of a mechanism for the economic empowerment of weavers by enabling easy loans and other facilities.
“Rahul Gandhi has expressed deep concern over suicide by weavers and the neglect of victim families by the TRS Govt,” Uttam Kumar Reddy said while adding that TRS Govt has been denying incidents of suicide by weavers only to deprive their families of any financial assistance.
Uttam Kumar Reddy informed that Rahul Gandhi has also assured proper implementation of the Handloom Reservation Act, 1985 which restricts textile manufacturers, industrialists and marketers from selling power loom products as handloom. “Rahul Gandhi has assured that the next Congress Govt will take all measures to resolve the problems and hardship being faced by the weavers of Telangana,” he said.
Further, Rahul Gandhi has assured the Girijan farmers that their rights over forest lands would be protected as guaranteed under the Forest Rights Act, 2006 enacted by then Congress-led UPA Govt. Several Girijan farmers who participated in the meeting told Rahul Gandhi that although they have been doing cultivation on forest lands for decades, the TRS Govt was trying to displace them in the name of ‘Podu’ (shifting cultivation) lands.
Uttam Kumar Reddy said that the previous Congress Govt implemented the Forest Rights Act in 2006 to grant rights on forest land to the Girijans through various committees from State to sub-division levels. He informed that as many as 2,15,742 individual applications were received for rights on 8,18,090 acres of forest land. Till 2014, a total of 99,486 applications were resolved for 3,29,571 Acres. In 2014, when TRS came to power a total of 1,16,256 applications for 4,88,518 acres were pending.
The Congress MP said that the TRS Govt did not give ownership rights to a single Girijan in the last eight years. Instead, it snatched away 18,655 Acres of forest land from 1,950 Girijans.
Rahul Gandhi has given an assurance that the next Congress Govt in Telangana would implement the Forest Rights Act and grant ownership to the deserving Girijans by clearing all the pending applications. He said that the Girijans in the Munugode constituency need not worry as the next Congress Govt would protect their rights. “Rahul Gandhi has promised that the Congress party will fight to protect the rights and interests of all Girijans,” he said.
An activist, Sunil, who participated in the meeting with Rahul Gandhi, informed that Rahul Gandhi had given three major assurances which includes giving ownership rights to over 3 lakh pending applicants under the Forest Rights Act. There is a boundary dispute on nearly 4 lakh acres of land between the Revenue and Forest Depts. He said Rahul Gandhi has assured that the dispute would be resolved by facilitating a joint survey by both departments which would help more than one lakh families. Further, nearly 96,000 beneficiaries of the Forest Rights Act will be included in the revenue records so that they can enjoy the benefits of other welfare schemes for farmers.
Uttam Kumar Reddy said that Rahul Gandhi, during his stay in Telangana till the 7th of November, would interact with various sections of the society on their problems. (eom)
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