Truckers threaten Goa blockade

Panaji, April 16 (IANS) Hundreds of truckers and trade associations from Karnataka and Maharashtra Tuesday threatened to blockade Goa after it imposed a hefty tax on non-state vehicles entering its territory.

Representatives of trade associations from Belgaum, Kolhapur and transport associations are now in Goa to appeal to the Goa government, seeking a roll back on the entry tax, which works out to Rs.1,000 per truck.

“Goa imports meats, groceries, eggs, milk, vegetables from Maharashtra and Karnataka. If the government does not roll back the price, we will be forced to stop all vehicles coming to Goa with these essential commodities. There are other markets available, where we can go,” Satish Tendulkar, president of the Belgaum Chamber of Commerce and Industries told reporters here.

He will be meeting Goa Transport Minister Sudin Dhavalikar at the state secretariat to protest against the tax.

The All India Motor Transport Congress, which controls over four lakh commercial trucks and goods carriers, said that the tax was unprecedented and that no other state in India had an entry tax for non-state vehicles.

“The entry tax is unfair. State governments are not empowered to impose such taxes by amending the motor vehicles act. It is the domain of the central government,”

G.R. Shanmugappa of the transport panel, said.

“Goa does not produce any raw materials and nor does it have a big market for finished goods. The Goan industry depends heavily on import of raw materials, most of which enter Goa through National Highway 17, 17 B and 4 A,” the associations have said in a written representation addressed to Deputy Chief Minister Francisco D’Souza.

“We wish to further bring to your kind notice that various vendors/trade associations in Belgaum are agitated over the issue of entry tax and are planning to blockade Goa,” the representation further said.

With the state taking a huge revenue hit, owing to the shutdown in mining imposed by the Supreme Court, the state government has had to increase various commercial taxes in a bid to cope to the shortfall in revenue.

The toll booths are aimed to scoop revenue to the tune of Rs.50 crore from the hundreds of thousands of tourists who drive down to the state annually and commercial vehicles entering the state.

Three wheelers entering Goa are now being charged Rs.100, tempos Rs.500, four wheelers Rs.250 and heavy vehicles Rs.1,000.

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