New fee may prevent tourist vehicles from entering State

Vehicle owners will have to pay ` 1,776 for 4-wheelers to ` 4,44,000 for buses

 The Karnataka government's newly introduced annual payment mode of entry tax to all India permit taxis that enter the State has been received with sharp responses from across the State-borders. 

According to the new rule, instead of paying entry fee for a week that has been in practice till now, taxis have to pay an annual fee irrespective of how many days the visitors will be in the State. The new rule has come in force since this December. The rule is binding to all India permit taxis only. 

Fee increased manifold

If a taxi car is coming towards Karnataka from Kerala, the driver has to pay Rs 1,776 for a year instead of Rs 50 he used to pay before December. If the taxi is a seven-seat vehicle, the amount is Rs 16,000; for a Traveller, the fee is Rs 50,000 and for a 49 seat bus, the amount will be a whopping Rs 4,44,000 to cross the border. Though the frequent visitors will benefit from the rule as they can travel the entire year, it comes as a rude shock to the seasonal visitors. Adding insult to the injury, the visitors have to pay the lump-some amount as DD in the name of State transport authority official in Bangalore and show the receipt at the respective check posts. The Regional Transport Officer, Mangalore, Afsal Mohammed told Deccan Herald that the new rule has come into existence on December 1. 

Tourism worst hit

The new rule has been widely criticized for its adverse impact on tourism. As November to January are tourist seasons, umpteen number of study-tour teams from educational institutions are crossing the State-borders. On Tuesday, a college team from Kozhikode, Kerala, in a Traveller on their way to Goa, returned from Talappady check post as they were being asked to pay around Rs 50,000 to enter Karnataka. "It's ridiculous. How come tourism will be promoted when these kind of laws are in place?" fumed Anil K V, the tour co-ordinator of the team. 

The Chief Executive Officer of Panambur beach tourism development project, Yathish Baikampady also shared similar apprehension. "This is virtually an extortion. Authorities will only learn a lesson when it badly hits tourism. An improvement in basic infrastructure itself makes visitors to spend their money here which in turn will add up to state's kitty," he pointed out. 

Apart from Talappady, reports from other state-borders viz Manathavady, Sultan Bathery, Gundulpet, Virajpet, Hosur etc echo same sentiments. Minor scuffles between people and check-post officials have become routine at the borders now, it is said. 

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