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Tax leash on wily wheels

- Heavy vehicles registered outside state under Bokaro lens

From December 9, the Bokaro district administration will crack down on heavy commercial vehicles that successfully evade paying transport tax by virtue of being registered outside Jharkhand.

On Tuesday, Bokaro deputy commissioner (DC) Uma Shankar Singh directed district transport officer (DTO) Vijay Kumar Gupta to initiate action against owners and operators of all vehicles that are registered in other states and don’t pay tax to the local transport department.

“I have asked the DTO to take action and seize vehicles if found plying without proper documents,” DC Singh said.

According to norms, it is mandatory for all vehicles registered outside Jharkhand but plying in the state for more than a year, to get re-registered here. All vehicles that use state roads for over 15 days need to pay taxes.

Sources said around 95 per cent of dumpers, pay loaders, excavators, trucks and SUVs, used by all major companies in Bokaro, are registered outside Jharkhand.

Not only does the state lose out on the one-time registration fee, it also does not get annual transport tax.

A rough estimation suggests the district transport department loses Rs 20-25 crore annually in tax, mainly because commercial vehicles sniff out states, especially the Northeast ones, with far lower slabs.

For example, vehicle registration charges in Jharkhand were much higher than that in Nagaland and Assam.

For example, in Jharkhand, a 10-wheeler trailer needs to pay Rs 20,000 per year as tax, as against Rs 4,000-5,000 in Nagaland.

“So, most owners adopt illegal means and get their vehicles registered in these Northeastern states. And, this practice has been going on for several years,” said a senior transport department official.

Speaking to The Telegraph, DTO Gupta admitted that hundreds of heavy vehicles, registered in other states with low tax slabs, had been plying across the district for the past several years.

“We will conduct raids and go for massive vehicle checks in Bokaro Steel City, Chas, Phusro, Chandrapura, Bokaro thermal plant, Chandankyari and Gomia. We will initiate steps to realise all taxes due on these vehicles. Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and a number of southern states carry out similar raids,” he said.

Sources said the district transport office (DTO) had initiated a drive in July this year to identify vehicles that did not have local registration numbers, following a directive from the state transport department.

The authorities had asked CCL, BCCL, DVC, Bokaro steel plant and other coal mines and collieries to furnish details of vehicles being used by them.

It was found that over 400 heavy commercial vehicles of these companies were registered in states like Nagaland, Assam, Punjab, Chandigarh, Haryana and Bihar.

“Later, private vehicles with registration numbers from other states will be asked to pay tax to the transport department here,” DTO Gupta added.

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