"In the interest of large cross section of the people dependant on Kendu (Tendu) leaves for their livelihood, it is requested to place the matter in the next meeting of GST Council and consider GST on Kendu (tendu) leaves from 18 per cent to 5 per cent," he wrote to Jaitley.
Tendu leaves, which are used to roll beedis, are locally called Kendu.
Stating that Kendu leaves, a minor forest produce is the lifeline of the tribal people of Odisha, Patnaik said these people collect the leaves as part of their right defined under Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. They have the rights to procure and sell these products, Patnaik said.
Patnaik pointed out that prior to implementation of the GST, the state government was imposing 5 per cent VAT on kendu leaf trade. However, after implementation of GST from July 1, 2017, 18 per cent is levied on Kendu leaves.
"Due to such hike in the GST rate, thousands of quintal of Kendu leaves are still lying at different godowns.
"This has led to drop in selling price of Kendu leaves sold by Odisha Forest Development Corporation Limited through tender, which had adversly impacted the implementation of social security and welfare schemes for 8.5 lakh kendu leaf pluckers, seasonal workers and binding workers engaged in this trade," Patnaik said in the letter.
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