'GST impacting beedi industry'

"Goods and Services Tax has created havoc in the beedi industry. The industry, which is already facing serious problems, has witnessed a loss of jobs. Under GST, one needs to pay taxes of Rs 142 per 1,000 beedi. Earlier, it was Rs 62 per 1,000 beedi," said DK Udupi Jilla Beedi Contractors Union Working President Mohammed Rafi.

Speaking to reporters here, he said that the beedi industry was thriving even before independence. More than two crore people are dependent on the beedi industry for a livelihood. There are more than 10 brands of beedis in the coastal belt.

He said that there are 2.5 lakh beedi workers and 2,500 beedi contractors in Dakshina Kannada. The Centre had announced to free India from tobacco by 2020. In case it is implemented, then lakhs of beedi workers will come to the streets as it would be difficult to provide alternative jobs for the workers, he said.

A convention of beedi workers and contractors will be held on January 30. "Looking at the present scenario, the beedi industry will become a thing of the past within 10 years. There has been a drastic decline in the number of beedi smokers. Further, GST had an impact on the industry. The ban on smoking in public places too has affected the industry. The beedi industry may survive till 2030," he said and added that a memorandum will be submitted to the President, Prime Minister and Chief Minister to fulfill the demands of the industry.

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