Pool car owners have written to the state government seeking waiver of penalties that have accrued since March 2020 for not paying the road tax and renewing the fitness certificate so they have the necessary papers to appeal for a permit.
The Pool Car Owners’ Welfare Association on Friday wrote to state transport secretary Rajesh Kumar Sinha that a section of pool car owners was unable to provide services even after schools reopened, “...posing difficulties to parents and students".
“We are ready to pay the permit fees, which vary between Rs 18,000 and Rs 11,500 for five years. But we cannot appeal for permit renewal unless all other documents, including the road tax paper and fitness certificate, are in order,” said Sudip Dutta, secretary of the association.
“The government's waiver of the fine for not renewing the fitness certificate ended on December 31. We can survive only if the waiver is extended for another six months."
Since schools reopened on February 16 for junior students, only about 20 per cent of the pool car operators have been back in business.
A section of pool car operators said that in April 2020, following the closure of schools as a precaution against Covid, they had appealed to transport minister Firhad Hakim for a waiver of road taxes.
The operators appealed for the waiver because the closure of schools had thrown them out of business.
“The minister told us that road tax could not be waived but assured us that the fine for late payment of road tax would be waived. However, the promise has remained on paper,” said a pool car owner from Tollygunge in south Kolkata who refused to be identified.
With private bus, mini bus and contract carriage operators struggling to clear their dues, the transport minister had declared on February 9 that all commercial vehicle owners could get their penalties waived by paying Rs 1,500 and turn up for the fitness tests.
The announcement came as a relief to commercial vehicle owners who said they would have had to otherwise pay several thousands of rupees as fine before taking their vehicles for the fitness test.
Bus operators said a year’s penalty would be around Rs 18,250.
On Friday, several pool car owners said the minister's announcement had not yet been translated into a formal order and as a result they were unable to take the test.
Transport department officials said the finance department was readying the order and a notification might reach all regional transport offices by early next week.