Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi will visit Mumbai on Tuesday during which he would visit the Deonar dumping ground that was recently in news due to massive fires, after which he would also meet jewellers, who have been on strike to oppose excise duty on gold jewellery.
Mumbai Regional Congress Committee (MRCC) chief Sanjay Nirupam told this to reporters here today.
“Rahul Gandhi ji would leave Nagpur on April 12 morning and would arrive in Mumbai around 11.30 am. He would directly head to review Deonar dumping ground situation, which recently played a havoc for the residents living nearby due to emission of toxic gases due to fires,” he said.
In the recent past, two massive fires had broken out at the dumping yard, spread over 326 acres, leading to a thick blanket of smog in various parts of Mumbai.
Around 2.30 pm, Rahul would reach Zaveri Bazar (jewellery market) in south Mumbai to express the party’s solidarity with the jewellers, who have been on strike for last 39 days.
“The NDA government has been wilfully trying to destroy the jewellery industry across the country and to thwart this, our leader Rahul Gandhi ji would be expressing party’s solidarity with all the players of jewellery industry by extending his whole-hearted support,” Nirupam alleged.
Former Union Minister Milind Deora, who was also present at the press conference said, “Rahul ji is very much concerned with the grim realities that almost seven crore of the jewellers and their family members are going through. This is why after supporting jewellers cause at Jantar Mantar in Delhi last month, he is visiting Mumbai again to back them.”
In 2012, the UPA government also introduced excise duty on gold, but following huge opposition from the stakeholders of this fragmented industry, we convinced our Finance minister and the decision was rolled back, Deora said, adding, “But this government is hell-bent on imposing the duty anyway and vehemently overlooking the valid demands of the jewellers.”
Over 300 associations consisting of over three lakh manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers and artisans among others, are participating the nationwide stir since March 2 to demand withdrawal of the excise duty announced in the Budget.
Rahul’s last visit to Mumbai was in mid-January, when he had taken out a padyatra from National College in suburban Bandra to Dharavi. The press conference was also attended by representatives of jewellery associations, who said that as an alternative to the excise duty, they were ready if the government hikes the customs duty by 1-2 per cent.
“As an alternative we will not mind if the government increases the customs duty by 1-2 per cent, but levying excise duty would open floodgates of harassment that we would face in a new era of inspector raj,” Mumbai Jewellers Association Vice-President Kumar Jain said.
The gems and jewellery industry, which mostly consists of people who are not very educated, will have to appoint people to deal with the cumbersome process of filing and maintaining records needed for filing excise duty, he added.