HYDERABAD: The KCR government’s decision to levy motor vehicle tax on commercial vehicles coming to the State from AP from Wednesday kicked up a storm Tuesday with many private operators cancelling bus services in protest and taking scores of unsuspecting passengers by surprise.
About 80 per cent bus services from different parts of AP to Hyderabad came to a screeching halt. And, almost 95 per cent of bus services from Vijayawada, Vizag, Srikakulam and Vizianagaram have been stopped. As many as 200 private buses are operated between Vijayawada and Hyderabad everyday by 15-20 private operators like Kesineni, SVR, Sai Krishna and others. Till now, they had been paying `1,18,125 for a 40-seater as tax per quarter, which means `2,625 per seat. AP and Telangana, had been sharing the revenue as per the AP Reorganisation Act. However, the Telangana government had on Monday issued a GO declaring that it would start collecting tax from commercial vehicles from AP from Wednesday onwards. As per the GO, the private bus operators will now have to pay `1,76,400 per bus every quarter. In the wake of the large-scale protests from private bus and lorry owners’ associations in both Telangana and AP, Telangana Transport Minister P Mahender Reddy clarified that the decision to levy tax was taken on the directions of the high court.
“AP is like any other State,” he told reporters here, adding that tax would also be levied on vehicles coming from other States like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Delhi. He pointed out that Telangana was a new State and requires money for its development.
His AP counterpart S Raghava Rao, however, termed the Telangana move anti-people. “This will be a big burden on everyone. We don’t want this to happen at least for the coming 10 years. When we are not levying taxes on vehicles coming from TS, how can they do this?,” he questioned. Stating that he tried his best to convince the TS government to reconsider its decision, he said it was unfortunate that it went ahead.
The private operators, on the other hand, threatened to move the high court. “We will approach the high court,” K Kumar, manager of Kesineni Travels in Vijayawada told Express. The operators also fear AP government too may levy tax on them. Sashidhar Balaji of the AP Private Bus Owners’ Association, said, “Even states like TN and Kerala do not collect taxes if we have a tourist permit. Yet, if we have to go to Telangana, we will now have to pay tax!”.
However, they haven’t yet decided to hike bus fares immediately. “At the moment, the mood is to cancel services. We hope once Naidu returns from Singapore, both the State governments will amicably resolve this issue,” he said.