BIRATNAGAR: Even as the government has exempted fruits-related items from all sorts of taxes, about a dozen districts in Tarai are still collecting the taxes illegally, sources said today.
According to fruit traders, DDCs in Morang, Jhapa, Sunsari, Saptari, Siraha, Dhanusha, Mahottari, Rautahat, Bara, Parsa and Makawanpur have been fleecing the illegal tax from them.
“The DDC selected contractors collect the tax by setting up road blockades and make us pay upto Rs 12,000 at each point,” Nabin Dahal, member of Godawari Farmers’ Group of Morang told THT.
“They threaten us off and we have no option but to do their bidding or leave the business,” he lamented, adding that hooligans hired by the contractors are coughing up the so-called tax amount by bullying the traders with threats and weapons.
“What is even worse is paying once is not enough in some places. In some districts, we have to pay such taxes at two or three places,” bemoaned Dahal further, adding the illegal tax has become a bane for their business.
The fruit traders also accused police of being hand in gloves with the contractors in the illegal act.
“We are supposed to lodge complaint with the police but if sought their help, they suggest us to settle the matter with the contractors,” said Godawari farmers’ group’s chairperson Khoj Bahadur Karki, adding, “When the police are themselves involved in the racket what else can be done?”
Meanwhile, following the complaint of the fruit traders, the District Administration Office, Morang, has pledged to look into the matter.
“I have reported the issue to the Home Ministry. Once we get the instruction we will take action against those collecting the ill
Meanwhile, the Eastern Regional Police Chief, DIG Surendra Bahadur Shah assured that he would take necessary action to bring the guilty to book.
In Morang alone, about 96,000 tonnes of bananas are produced, which are exported to cities like Kathmandu, Pokhara, Bhairahawa, Butwal and Nepalgunj.