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29 Jun 2017

Transporters seek tax waiver

TT, Siliguri, June 28: A delegation of transporters and drivers based here today sought the restoration of normalcy in the hills and waiver of commercial tax for three months.
They submitted memorandums to the regional transport officer and the Siliguri subdivisional officer with the demands.
"We cannot run our vehicles to Darjeeling, Kurseong, Kalimpong and other areas of the hills because of the indefinite strike. Our vehicles cannot go to Sikkim either as the drivers are being intimidated by bandh supporters. There have been many attacks on vehicles. That is why we sought the intervention of the administration to restore normalcy in the hills," Jayanta Majumdar, a prominent transporter in Siliguri, said.
In Siliguri, sources said, there are more than 5,000 vehicles which ply between the hills and the plains.
"Most of the vehicles are financed by banks and other lenders. As the earnings have come down to zero in the past fortnight, we are seriously worried as to how long we can pay the instalments and meet other recurring expenses like salaries of drivers and maintenance costs of the vehicles," another transporter said.
In their memorandum, the transporters have sought the temporary waiver of the commercial vehicle tax for one quarter.
"As we are unable to run our vehicles, this temporary waiver can largely help us," he said.
The drivers - over 50 of them were part of the delegation - also pointed out that vehicles registered in Sikkim, which are plying between the hills and plains, were overcharging passengers.
"As we cannot run our vehicles because there is always security concern along the stretch of NH10 till Rangpo (the Bengal-Sikkim border) from the outskirts of Siliguri, vehicles bearing Sikkim registration number are asking for exorbitant rates from passengers. We have information that a reserve vehicle is charging as high as Rs 9,000 for a one-way travel to Gangtok whereas the usual rate is around Rs 3,500," a driver said.
Asked about the problems faced by the transporters and their plea to waive the commercial tax for a quarter, an official of the Darjeeling district administration said: "The memorandum will be forwarded to the state government. We cannot comment on the waiver demand or take any decision. As far as the disruption in the movement of vehicles is concerned, we can't do much. Stakeholders of different sectors are facing inconveniences and losses, and the transport sector is no exception," he said.

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