LAHORE Some towns of City District Government have levied tax of Rs 1,000 per month on traders and shopkeepers for not demolishing their illegally constructed ramps of shops as well as for allowing them to use space for footpaths, TheNation has learnt. However, traders and shopkeepers alleged that such amount is extortion money on part of the town officials and not as a tax. They said that the officials warned them to demolish their ramps because the anti-encroachment squads would not demolish their ramps but only register cases against them with imposing fines. In this regard, officials of different towns of the City on Thursday and Friday served notices to the shopkeepers and traders, running their business within the precincts of these towns whereas the subject matter of such notices revealed that the objective of the notices was to warn the shopkeeper and traders to demolish their illegally constructed ramps willingly otherwise the administration was authorised to take legal action against them by imposing fine, registering FIRs or sealing the property. However, the notices, served by the officials were only the warning notices and not describing about any newly levied tax but the officials orally informed the shopkeepers that there was only way out to save their ramps and that was to pay Rs 1,000 every month. But they did not cleared while serving notices that whether such amount would be received by the authorities as government tax or would be collected as 'extortion money on part of the enforcement inspectors (who were also signing authority according to the notices) and other town officials accompanied with these inspectors. Further, the officials threatened a number of educated and law knowing traders shopkeepers on account of querying and raising objections about the contents of the 'tax saying that they would not only demolish their illegally constructed ramps but also their buildings declaring them unlawful. Meanwhile a number of shopkeepers of Kot Khawaja Saeed, Chah Miran, Shadbagh and other areas of Shalimar Town scuffled with the officials due to their threatening attitude and rude behaviour. Later, the traders and shopkeepers protested against such unethical and rude attitude on part of the officials and against the threats for receiving extortion money on the name of tax from the traders through unfair means. They were of the view that the town officials were exploiting and using these tactics only for minting money from the business community. They said that in fact the officials failed to conduct anti-encroachment operation in these areas and for hiding their poor performance, negligence and lethargic attitude in this regard. Shahid Mehmood, a trader of Kot Khawaja Saeed said while talking to TheNation that such officials came on main bazaar and started serving notices to the shopkeepers with informing them to pay Rs 1,000 if they wanted to save them from any loss to their property. Certainly these enforcement inspectors wanted to exploit the shopkeepers and vendors of the area for minting money, he alleged. Sher Khan, a motorcycle mechanic said that they had no objection on any operation against illegal constructions and that was why the shopkeepers invited the officials to launch operation and demolish their illegally erected ramps because the shopkeepers were not ready to pay any tax for this purpose. When this scribe tried to contact Town Municipal Officer Shalimar Town Haris Jalil for his version, he was not available.