The civic law committee’s chairman Rajeev Chaugule and officials of the vigilance department caught nine trucks and seized goods from a few handcarts that were trying to evade octroi at the Mumbai Central station on Thursday morning.
The goods, mostly readymade garments, were brought into the city through outstation trains. The total worth of the goods and the loss to the civic body due to the evasion of the octroi wasn’t formulated since officials were yet to make an inventory.
Chaugule said: “When we reached the station, we found that nine trucks were about to leave the station after having loaded all the cargo that came in the outstation trains without paying any octroi duty. That is when we intercepted these and seized the goods.”
A senior civic official from the assessment and collection department, however, denied the allegation. He said: “Before the raid at Mumbai Central, we had already collected Rs 5 lakh as octroi from other consignments. The trucks intercepted by Chaugule were not trying to evade octroi and flee, but were in fact waiting for their turn to be assessed.”
SS Shinde, joint municipal commissioner, said, “Stations have a lot of perforations and hence it sometimes becomes difficult to intercept all the goods that come in trains.”
Shinde said even though the civic body had a pact with the Central Railway over levying of octroi on imported goods, such an agreement hasn’t yet been formulated with the Western Railway (WR). “Hence, as a result, our men are posted on major WR stations for outstation trains to intercept such goods and levy octroi on them.”
Hindustan Times had reported how additional municipal commissioner Rajeev Jalota had conducted similar raids and suspended five civic officials posted at octroi nakas for negligence. The recent raids signal a crackdown on octroi evasion by the civic body.
Civic chief Subodh Kumar has been known for his emphasis on increasing the civic body’s revenue. Octroi collections form the backbone of the civic body’s revenue and are the highest revenue earners for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. Sources said out of the total octroi revenue, around Rs450-500 crore is from goods coming into the city in trains.