BHUBANESWAR: The Odisha Government has decided to do away with a non-existent ‘mechanical tax’ that was being collected from the goods carriers of other States once every month under various sections of Motor Vehicle Act for over 30 years. Though the decision would cost State exchequer around `30 crore per annum, State Transport Authority (STA) on Tuesday issued a circular banning collection of the fine since it was earning the State a bad name.
The regional transport officials had been collecting a fine of `1500 under Section 177 (general provision for punishment of offences) and 194-B (use of safety belts by driver and other passengers) under MV Act from goods vehicles of other States for more than three decades. The mechanical tax, apparently, was a levy which was being collected in a ‘mechanical’ manner by transport officials once every month during a random check.
If any driver was found not penalised for a particular offence, he or she would have to cough up the fine under ‘mechanical tax’ head which is a misnomer. “It was almost like if a driver had not paid fine on one head, he/she would have to pay for it but that would be put under mechanical tax head,” said sources.
Mechanical tax to go
While other States except Bihar and Haryana stopped collecting the mechanical tax, vehicle owners, especially those from the southern States, used to complain about the routine checks once every month in Odisha. Transport Commissioner and Chairman of STA Sanjeeb Panda said all penal provisions need to be enforced uniformly across the State for all motor vehicles without resorting to any discrepancies between home State and goods carriers of other States.
“The practice of collecting fine routinely once in every month needs to be discontinued. Enforcement officers of all RTOs have been directed to stop collecting the routine fines from the goods carriages of other States in the name of mechanical tax. They have been asked to ensure that non-erring vehicle owners are not penalised or harassed,” he said. Anyone found deviating the direction would be viewed seriously, Panda warned.