Confusion over GST hits sal leaf biz

Kaptipada: Sal leaf collection and trade, a cottage industry in several parts of tribal-dominated Mayurbhanj district, has suffered a major setback due to the confusion over GST implementation. The lives of lakhs of tribals, who eke out a living from sal leaf collection, have been affected severely, as the transportation of leaves has come to a halt now.

After the state government imposed GST on sal leaves, the traditional livelihood of tribals faced a crisis. According to reports, tribals also collect other minor forest produce like mahua flowers, tula, bahada, gooseberry, harida, resin and honey from forests. They manage their families with whatever they get as sale proceeds.

However, after the implementation of GST, the sal leaf trade has been stuck in a stalemate at collection centres at Betanati in Mayrubhanj and Basta in Balasore.

The transportation to other states for sales of plates, trays and bowls made out from sal leaves has been stopped.

As per norms, sal leaf traders deposit their royalty at the forest department and take transit permit from the department for transporting. Now, the state government has not made it clear about what will be the amount of GST and what will be its modes of collection.

With no clear idea on GST implementation, the traders and transport agencies stopped taking transit permits.

Traders said the heavy vehicles which have come from Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and other states are parked at different places, but the loading of sal leaf items has been stopped.

Reports said that the livelihoods of more than five lakh tribals have been affected due to the crisis. There are no takers for their khali plates. Even small traders operating in rural pockets were also badly affected by it, said Paresh Mohant, a local trader.

Sal leaf collection is a cottage industry in Kaptipada, Nato, Sharat, Ranipokhari, Dewanbahali, Sardiha, Labanyadeipur, Ramchandrapur, Padmapokhari, Kalamgadia, Mankadapada, Chakradharpur, Debala, Kulialam, JS Jamudiha,, Majhi Gadia and Shalachaua.

A bundle of 100 khali leaves is sold between Rs 70 to Rs 100 in the market.

Kaptipada ranger Sangram Keshari Mohanty said that sal leaf trade has been severely affected after the imposition of royalty since 2008.

“But what will be the future of sal leaf industry after the imposition of GST. The sector has already been affected by a six-month restriction on leaf collection,” the ranger added. PNN



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