Tax gap: Vehicles from Karnataka cross Goa border every evening to tank up

Petrol in Goa has always been cheaper than in Karnataka, but has become even cheaper now.
Motorists from Karwar refuel their vehicles at a petrol pump in Goa
Motorists from Karwar refuel their vehicles at a petrol pump in Goa

KARWAR: Tanking up in Goa holds multiple meanings these days. As the sun sets, vehicles from Karnataka appear to form a queue to cross the checkpost in Karwar and enter Goa. They head to the nearest petrol bunks to fuel up, with a pitstop at a liquor store before returning.

With the Karnataka government raising sales tax on petrol and diesel, vehicle users from Karwar are making a beeline to petrol pumps close to the border, where petrol costs around Rs 8 less, and diesel Rs 1.50 less than in Karnataka. For a lay person in Karwar, visiting Goa is no big thing -- they commute to Goa every day to earn their livelihood, and some drive out during the evenings for a tipple, but in recent days, the objective is to fill up their tanks.

Petrol in Goa has always been cheaper than in Karnataka, but has become even cheaper now. The price had dropped to Rs 99 per litre after the Union government reduced fuel charges. But post Lok Sabha elections, the Karnataka government hiked tax. Now, diesel price is marginally less in Goa compared to Karwar, where it is sold at Rs 88.07, while it is Rs 90.57 in Karnataka.

“Petrol in Karwar now costs Rs 104, but people have an option. They can travel 15km and get their tanks filled,” said Prashanth, an employee at a petrol pump in Karwar. He said business is dull in Karwar bunks, with most customers heading towards Goa.

“We can save up to Rs 9 per litre. We pay Rs 95.50 per litre in Goa against Rs 104.49 in Karnataka. If we buy 11 litres of fuel in Goa, the 12th litre comes free,” said Sunil Hankon, who filled up his fuel tank.

“There were times fuel prices in Karnataka and Goa had a gap of Rs 15, and people took advantage of it and fuelled up in Goa. After the Goan government hiked tax, the difference was reduced to a marginal Rs 4-6. People stopped coming to Goa to buy fuel, but now the old days are returning,” said Amar Kotarkar, a native of Ponda in Goa who owns a fuel pump.

Mahesh Ratnakar Naik, employee at a petrol pump in Polem, Goa, confirmed that more vehicles are coming for fuel, but added, “It’s not just to fill fuel, but to fuel their bellies too. Bars here are also full.”

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