Which is the best place for dosa in town? Any food lover worth his or her salt will probably name places like ‘Ram ki bandi’ or ‘Govind ki bandi’, both of which have literally expanded from small pushcarts to posh outlets in the upmarket area of Banjara Hills.
But they are the exception, as many food vendors continue to ply on the roadside and make big buck from their small businesses. The dosa stalls at Hanuman Tekdi, for example, famous for paneer dosa, make a killing everyday, earning thousands of rupees daily. And, in spite of raking in so much moolah, they are yet to come under the Income Tax (IT) Department’s scanner given their huge income.
Some days ago, ‘millionaire’ street vendors comprising paanwallahs, juice sellers, and vada pao sellers came under the scanner of the taxmen, who were on course to asses their tax liability to keep a check on black money in the informal sector. However, that part of the economy in Hyderabad is yet to be tapped, as IT officials here said that it was an area which has not been fully explored till now.
“We have a lot of information now, as we are aware of the high income among some street vendors. But to individually go after each and every one of them is another matter,” said a senior IT officer from the city, who requested anonymity. He further stated that his department currently also lacked the manpower to take up the task. As of now, there are about 70 officials in the IT Department’s investigation wing, which looks into such issues.
One would be surprised to learn about the kind of money roadside or footpath vendors make each day. B. Srinivas (name changed), is a hawker near the Alpha hotel, but he makes at least a few thousand rupees every day to be able to hire a few workers to run his small business. “There are some of us who do earn a lot. Even though we don’t have to pay tax, we have to bribe police officials regularly,” he said, adding that paying tax is something unheard of for people like him.
And for IT officials to start assessing them will also be a huge task, as it would require collecting a lot of information first. “We have to first go there incognito for a few days, see the kind of money they make, only after which we can then take some action. So given the current strength, it is not possible to go check every person like that,” explained another senior official.