Tourist vehicle operators are fuming over Regional Transport Office’s decision that makes it compulsory for vehicles with All India tourist permits to pay tourist tax annually instead of on a weekly basis.
On Sunday, around 200 cabs approaching the State turned back after they were stopped at the check-posts and asked to pay huge amounts.
Tourist vehicle operators on Monday alleged that the Transport Department did not give them any notification of the rule.
“This spells the doom of the domestic tourist industry in the State. The government is only concerned about tourists who fly into airports and not about pilgrims who mostly travel by road,” said R K Holla, Secretary of the Bangalore Tourist Taxi Operators Association.
He said transport officials on Monday claimed that they could not interfere with the process as it was mandated by a recent court order.
“They implemented the rule after neighbouring Andhra Pradesh (AP) did something similar. However, while one has to pay `3,150 as tourist tax annually for a 7-seater vehicle in AP, the amount in Karnataka is around `21,000. What is the use of procuring an All-India tourist permit then?,” he said.
However, Transport Department officials defended the decision, saying no notification is needed as the rules were implemented in May and the court case is filed only to challenge previous decisions.
“We have powers under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 to make these changes. There is no notification needed,” said Amarnarayana K, Transport Commissioner.
However, he could not provide details of the court order and was only able to recall that the judgement was given a week ago.
The tourist operators are now mulling further steps like approaching trade bodies to take up the issue with the government.