BHUBANESWAR: Naveen Patnaik, the chief minister of Odisha, has written Nirmala Sitharaman, the minister of finance of the union, to revoke the 18% GST imposed on kendu leaves.
Patnaik said in a letter to Sitharaman that kendu leaves, a minor forest product (MFP), are the main source of income for about 8 lakh kendu leaf pluckers, binders, and seasonal workers in Odisha, most of whom are members of the tribal community and the lowest members of society.
The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act of 2006 defines the tribal people's right to collect the leaves as one of their rights. He asserted that they are entitled to purchase and market these goods.
"The trade in kendu (tendu) leaves is suffering as a result of the GST (18%) that was imposed on them. This, therefore, has an impact on how social security and welfare programmes are implemented for kendu leaf pickers, pluckers, binders, and seasonal workers "In his letter, the Chief Minister said.
Patnaik urged the GST Council Chairperson to remove the GST imposed on kendu leaves for the benefit of the community that depends on them for a living.
On November 23, the CM had announced a bonus of Rs. 1,000 for each plucker and Rs. 1,500 for each seasonal workers and binders in the first phase.
These said developments came in the wake of the upcoming by-election to Padampur Assembly segment in Bargarh district on December 5.
Notably, Bargarh district has the highest concentration of kendu leaf growing areas among the 30 districts.