Goa Chief Minister adamant on the issue, says AIMTC
The All-India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) has decided to stop operation of all transport vehicles (goods as well as tourist) into Goa from midnight on Monday in protest against the entry tax being levied on non-Goan vehicles.
AIMTC president G.R. Shanmugappa told The Hindu that he had held several rounds of discussion with the Goa government and Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar to resolve the issue. “The Chief Minister, however, is adamant. Hence, we have decided to stop plying all transport vehicles to Goa,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Bangalore Tourist Taxi Owners’ Association has said it is participating in the strike, along with other transport associations. Secretary of the association K. Radhakrishna Holla said the Goa government’s decision would seriously affect the tourism industry not only in that State, but also in neighbouring States. While cars, including private cars, are being charged Rs. 250 to enter Goa, trucks and buses are being charged Rs. 1,000 and tempo travellers Rs. 500.
The entry tax was in addition to the road tax that transport vehicles had to pay, Mr. Shanmugappa pointed out.
Since April 1 this year, the Goa government has almost doubled the road tax for other State transport vehicles: Rs. 700 for five-seater cars, Rs. 2,400 for seven-seater cabs, Rs. 4,200 for Tempo Travellers and Rs. 13,000 for 35-seater tourist buses.
Mr. Holla said several transport organisations, including the Karnataka State Lorry Owners’ and Agents’ Federation, Karnataka State Maxi Cab Owners’ Association, Udupi Taximan Association, Kasaragod Bus Owners’ Association, Hubli-Dharwad Goods Transport Association, Khanapur, and Belgaum Bus Owners’ Association would participate in the strike. The Goa Panda Goods Transport Association and transport organisations in Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh were also supporting the strike, he added.
The Goa government has already set up toll collection booths at the entry points of the State, bordering Karnataka and Maharashtra. If a vehicle is using Goan roads as thoroughfare, the entry tax collected will be refunded at the exit booth provided the vehicle reaches the exit booth within four hours.
While the Goa government has been claiming that vehicles from neighbouring States are entering Goa because of cheaper fuel, transport associations have opposed the move to charge entry tax saying that it will severely affect their business. The government had offered monthly passes to regular vehicles, which was not accepted by the operators.
Goa, which earns considerable revenue through tourism, depends on neighbouring Karnataka and Maharashtra for the supply of vegetables, food items and milk.