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Packaged drinking water units in Tamil Nadu on strike to protest 18% GST

LiveMint logoLiveMint 29-05-2017 Dharani Thangavelu

Chennai: Packaged drinking water manufacturers in Tamil Nadu have gone on an indefinite strike to protest the proposed 18% Goods and Services Tax (GST) on canned water.

The strike by the Greater Tamil Nadu Packaged Drinking Water Manufacturers Association, which began on Sunday night, is also aimed at protesting the state government’s decision to shut down water units to limit ground water extraction.

With around 250 packaged water companies in Chennai, Kanchipuram and Thiruvallur taking part, the strike could hit drinking water supply in Chennai and its suburbs which consume nearly 25 million litres of packaged drinking water per day.

According to the association, the cost of 20-litre water cans, which are priced between Rs30 and Rs40 each, could increase by Rs20 if the new tax is levied. Packaged drinking water had been exempted from tax so far.

As the state reels under a severe drought, the revenue department has closed more than 80 water units in the last few weeks in the suburbs of Chennai to curb ground water exploitation.

“There is restriction to extract drinking water. But the government doesn’t regulate the exploitation by soft drink manufacturers,” said V. Murali, head of the Greater Tamil Nadu Packaged Drinking Water Manufacturers Association.

The association plans to meet chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami to find a solution for the issue. “In Chennai and suburbs around 200 units have already suspended operations,” added Murali.

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