Without much bookings, vehicle operators were already staring at huge losses and some have started knocking the doors of money lenders to pay the road tax.Chennai: Amid lockdown, the Tamil Nadu government has set June 30 as deadline for commercial vehicles to pay their road taxes. With little income and steep rise in diesel prices and toll rates, tax payment has put them under further stress, say vehicle owners.
Without much bookings, vehicle operators were already staring at huge losses and some have started knocking the doors of money lenders to pay the road tax.
According to official data, Tamil Nadu has around 4.65 lakh trucks. Of this, less than 13% saw regular bookings during the lockdown, transporting essentials such as vegetables, milk and medicines etc. The remaining trucks were idling as most industries remained shut, said C Dhanraj of State Lorry Owners’ Federation.
“Given the diesel price hike, a truck owner has to spend Rs 8,000 on fuel and Rs 2,000-Rs 2,500 as toll fee for travelling one way from Salem to Chennai. After deducting drivers’ pay, broker commission and other miscellaneous expenses, owners earn barely Rs 1,500-Rs 2,000 per trip,” Dhanraj added.
In this backdrop, the government has announced that state road tax of Rs 3,500-Rs 5,000 per quarter should be paid before June 30, failing which a 100% penalty will be levied, forcing many owners to borrow money.
S Yuvaraj from TN Sand Lorry Owners Association said, “While neighbouring states like Karnataka have waived road tax for two months, Tamil Nadu has given only 45 days extension to pay it. How can we pay this when lockdown was imposed from June 19?”.
Vehicle owners have repeatedly petitioned the transport department asking for a waiver similar to Karnataka as they were already overburdened with insurance cost and EMIs of vehicle loans. But there was no response, he added.
While at least a few trucks had some income, owners of private omni buses that have remained non-operational since Day 1 of lockdown (March 25) have also been asked to pay the tax.
Bus and lorry owners approached the Madras high court for relief last month and the case is likely to be heard on Tuesday.
Also Read: Private bus operators in Punjab unwilling to run service despite CM’s nod