Travel operators slapped with hefty penalties

Cab and bus operators, who have lost livelihood for over four months thanks to the COVID-19 lockdown, have received another blow in terms of heavy penalties over the pending motor vehicle tax.

Despite making several rounds of the offices concerned, no assurance is being given over the exemption from payment of tax, they lament. Attempts to meet Chief Minister K.Chandrasekhar Rao and Minister K.T. Rama Rao have been in vain.

Private travel operators who provide transportation within the city for IT companies and also those running tourist services with short term permits are the hardest hit as they have had virtually no business for the past four months since the lockdown was imposed.

WFH blow

Almost all the IT companies have shifted their business operations to their employees’ homes, which rendered their transportation needs redundant. Private tours stopped during lockdown, and are almost nil even after the lockdown has been relaxed.

“Rules say that the licensing authority should be informed before the tax quarter comes to a close if any vehicle is in non-use, so that MV Tax exemption may be availed in the next quarter. Lockdown regulations came into force since March 23, before the end of the first quarter. There was no way we could approach the licensing authority, in this case the Road Transportation Authority, violating lockdown norms, especially in containment zones,” said Syed Nizamuddin, president of the Telangana State Cabs and Bus Operators Association.

A few operators from the non-containment zones who tried to submit the representations were told that no papers were being accepted due to COVID-19 situation, he said.

Date extension

Despite several requests, appeals and representations to the authorities concerned, there has been little respite, other than extension of due date up to July 31. Requests submitted online too were rejected saying the mandatory surrender of original documents such as RC, permit and fitness certificate was not done. “Several drivers had parked the vehicles at their regular locations from where they would take the first pick-up. All the documents were left in the vehicles, and they could not venture out to fetch them due to lockdown regulations,” Mr.Nizamuddin said.

After expiry of the extended deadline, online portals for tax payment have begun to show hefty penalties, running into lakhs of rupees, he complained. Chaffed, the operators recently conducted a shirtless protest in front of the RTA head office.

Officials on the condition of anonymity said the ball is in the government’s court now, and the Cabinet needs to take a decision about the request.

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Printable version | Sep 25, 2020 11:12:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/travel-operators-slapped-with-hefty-penalties/article32271580.ece

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