BANGALORE: Vehicles registered outside Karnataka can turn into a security threat if there are no proper checks in place, said Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy as he defended the imposition of lifetime taxes (LTT) on non-state vehicle owners.
“Ours is a big state and Bangalore is one of the busiest cities in the country. The number of registered cars is more than twice that of Delhi and more than thrice that of Mumbai. Vehicles that aren’t registered can become a security threat and that is why the law was amended,” said Reddy. He was referring to a story publicshed in Express on September 10.
Following the amendment to the Karnataka Motor Vehicles Taxation Act, owners of vehicles registered outside the state are allegedly being harassed by Transport Department officials to pay lifetime taxes for plying on state roads for 30 days or more. There have been cases where owners were forced by officials to cough up taxes for driving on Karnataka roads for just a few days.
“This is not a general phenomenon,” contended Reddy. “If there have been such cases, I want the owners to approach me with relevant documents so that I can take action against the officials concerned. We want to have a clean government to help the public, but there is corruption in every department and at all levels.”
Commenting on a petition filed in the Supreme Court by a group of vehicle owners against the amendment, Reddy said: “These people are going against the betterment of the state. This is a decision taken by the legislature in view of security concerns. One should not disrespect the legislature.”
‘It’s Revenue, Not Security’
Waseem Memon, who has been campaigning against the amendment, urged the Home Department to take appropriate steps if there really was a security concern. “In that case, why is the Transport Department worried about security?” he asked. “The amendment has more to do with financial security. Officials are only interested in collecting LTT,” he said.
Former Director General and Inspector General of Police Shankar M Bidari concurred with Memon. “This is a technique to increase revenue. I don’t think there is a security threat from non-state vehicles. Most of the vehicles are merely passing through the state. How can this possibly pose a security threat? It is a big state, so they want to collect as much LTT as possible,” said Bidari.
K Amaranarayana, a retired bureaucrat who was the Commissioner for Transport & Road Safety when the amendment was made in February, brushed off security concerns. “This is a revenue-generating model. We have 1,900 km of roads that need to be maintained. The High Court had dismissed a petition challenging this, as it is a state policy,” he said.