Manipal: Bidi workers put forth various demands, Hold Rally

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Manipal: Hundreds of bidi workers belonging to various trade unions including the CITU (Centre for Indian Trade Unions), AITUC (All India Trade Union Congress) took out a rally putting forth various demands on Tuesday, March 17.

The protesters took out a rally from Tiger Circle to the Deputy Commissioner’s Office. The demonstrators raised slogans protesting against the implementation of various acts which are aimed to “kill the bidi industry”.

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Speaking to the protesters, G Balakrishan Shetty said that Bidi workers, estimated to number around 4 lakh in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts, have launched a campaign against the proposed Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) (Amendment) Bill 2015. “The COTPA Bill would adversely affect the bidi workers.”

He said that the government was keen to amend the act without providing an alternative source of revenue to those depending on the bidi industry. “The provisions would lead to unemployment of lakhs of bidi workers. The industry is already in trouble because of an increase in excise duty on tobacco products in the budget.”

He also demanded that the bidi workers should be given BPL cards, houses, logbooks and pension among other benefits. “The government should give scholarship for children of bidi workers besides sanctioning funds to the bidi workers’ welfare fund,” he demanded. “The scholarships given to these students should be increased whenever there is an increase in the educational fees.”

Mahabala Voderahobli president district bidi workers Foundation, K Laxman general secretary, Shashikala Girish K V Bhat, Vittal Poojary, Nalini Sugandhi, B Shekar and others were present.

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